Fabio Capello begins the final season of his England reign beset by problems in midfield ahead of a friendly against Holland at Wembley.
Capello, who has reaffirmed his intention to retire from football after Euro 2012, hopes to end his career on a high but is once again finding English football provides unexpected hurdles.
Not only does he have key midfielders Steven Gerrard, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott all injured for Wednesday's match, but he also feels unable to call up Newcastle's Joey Barton as cover because the player has just been fined and made available for transfer after criticising the club on his Twitter account.
The situation is typical of the unpredictable problems that have dogged Capello's time with England, ranging from off-field misdemeanours to the extra-marital affair that saw John Terry temporarily stripped of the captaincy.
"Barton is a good player," said Capello, who indicated the midfielder would have been considered in different circumstances despite his fiery reputation which would make him a 'dangerous' selection.
"This moment is not a good moment to decide something about him. When a player is fighting with his club it is normal to stay outside. The relationship between a club and a player is really important," Capello said.
There could also be a concern over Scott Parker who emerged as a key player for England last season, but who now faces the prospect of a season in the Championship having been relegated with West Ham.
Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham have all been linked with the tenacious midfielder but so far he remains at Upton Park -- not ideal preparation for Euro 2012 should England qualify.
"I will go to West Ham to see the games and check everything," Capello said.
"It is important for him to play in the Premier League. He is part of the group and if he is fit, he will be OK and stay with us. But I hope for him and for me he will play in the Premier League."
Capello's midfield problems are further complicated by a groin injury that continues to keep Gerrard out of action.
"Absolutely it is a concern. I hope he will be fit in a short space of time because he is a really good player for Liverpool and us," Capello said.
"I read he will be OK in September but you can't know what will happen. Also Theo Walcott is not fit. And we have to wait for Wilshere."
With so many players unavailable it is no surprise that Capello was quick to refute rumours he is ready to drop Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, who some critics believe has been usurped by the rise of Wilshere.
"No. Absolutely not," said Capello, who was speaking at a Mars 'Just Play' event at Wembley.
"He is an important player. He is really good. I substituted him against Switzerland because we were losing and a manager needs to find a solution. We had to try something different. But he is a really good player."
Although the Italian knows his team under-achieved at the 2010 World Cup he refuses to have any regrets about taking on the job.
"Regrets? Absolutely not," he insisted.
"Only one thing I am disappointed about with England - the goal against Germany that wasn't given possibly changed the performance of the team in South Africa."
The fact that Lampard's goal, which television cameras proved crossed the line, wasn't given meant England were eliminated in the last 16.
They are well placed to qualify for Euro 2012 and even if they fail to achieve their potential in Poland and Ukraine, Capello insists he will ignore the criticism.
"I won my titles. I have my titles. At the end of the season people are free to say what they think about me. It is no problem," Capello added.