On the face of it, England playing without both their captain and their star player against the world champions out of choice sounds like an act of hara-kiri.
Under normal circumstances you could reasonably expect the tabloids to be questioning the sanity of manager Fabio Capello, perhaps illustrated by the headline 'Has Fabio gone doolally?' and a photoshopped image of the Italian wearing a straitjacket.
But the build-up to Saturday's friendly with Spain at Wembley is not normal. For different reasons, John Terry and Wayne Rooney will not be playing.
Enough has already been said about Terry being under investigation for allegedly racially abusing Anton Ferdinand without Early Doors needing to wade in yet again (a quick summary: racism = bad, treating someone as innocent until proven guilty = good). However, the England skipper has been taken out of the firing line for the game against the world's best team.
Given the shocking reports this morning that Ferdinand has received a threat upon his life (despite not even hearing the alleged abuse or making a subsequent complaint about it), it seems completely impractical for Terry to face the media ahead of the Spain game, which he would be required to do as captain. Such a press conference would either risk airing questions and answers that would compromise the investigation or produce an embarrassing stream of dull platitudes as everyone avoided the issue. It would be a huge elephant in the room, dressed in blue and white with an opaque blob floating in front of its mouth whenever it parped.
It may have also come a blessed relief for the FA that Rio Ferdinand's recent struggles with injury mean he has not been included in the squad, thereby bypassing a great deal of awkwardness.
Terry's omission from the team is not the 'axing' some news outlets were quick to brand it yesterday. After all, he has been named in the squad, and is likely to play against Sweden the following Tuesday. Such a deal was reached between manager, player and club last week.
"On Friday I told him I don't know if he will play [against Spain] because I want to see new players and he was happy," Capello said. "If he does not play, it is only for football reasons. I want to see Joleon Lescott, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka play at the top levels."
Capello has done this a few times before, making full use of his squads during an international double-header. Recently epitaphs have been written for the England careers of Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard when they have been left out of the game on the weekend, only for them to then be resurrected for the second fixture a few days later. Barry even captained the team upon his return in March's 1-1 draw with Ghana, the last team in the upper reaches of the FIFA rankings that England faced.
At least Terry is in the squad. Rooney has been omitted altogether, no doubt to the joy of Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson. Despite the striker's mea culpa and the FA's appeal, he is unlikely to have his three-match ban overturned by UEFA. Even the subject of Rooney's 'assault', Montenegro's Miodrag Dzudovic, is sticking up for his aggressor, but Capello is making good on his promise to plan for life without his star striker, who will miss the whole group stage of next year's European Championships.
To that end, he has called up Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge. The 22-year-old has certainly had to work for his first senior squad selection. So far in 2011, he has scored 12 goals in 18 Premier League appearances for Bolton and the Blues. Compare that to Danny Welbeck, who has scored four in 17 over the same period for Sunderland last season and parent club United this term, but was fast-tracked into Capello's squad earlier this year after a much shorter burst around this time last year.
Sturridge has certainly shown he is deserving of his chance, scoring as many league goals as fellow Chelsea forwards Nicolas Anelka, Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres put together. Insert your own 'that's not hard' jokes there.
The inclusions of Aston Villa's Gabriel Agbonlahor - after a two-year absence - Bobby Zamora and Jack Rodwell also promise some intriguing cameos over the next two matches, but it is Sturridge's selection which may prove the most significant.
There is traditionally one player who makes a late run into the England reckoning before a major tournament, and with Rooney absent for three games in Poland and Ukraine there is a vacancy already there for Sturridge to fill.
It is just a shame that his debut call-up will be largely overshadowed by England's missing men.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Spitting is taboo if that's what happened. I only had it happen to me once and the player didn't come too close to me for a long time after that. If it has been shown, that is unacceptable behaviour and anyone here who was spat at would act accordingly." - Wolves manager Mick McCarthy reacts to reports that Wigan defender Antolin Alcaraz spat at one of his players during Saturday's 3-1 win at Molineux. Given 'Big' Mick's reputation, to 'act accordingly' probably means something more than a few carefully chosen words.
FOREIGN VIEW: "The team did not meet expectations and we say sorry to all our followers who supported us during the tournament and we offer our commitment to work hard from now to reverse this situation." - A club statement from Mexican giants America announced they have put their entire squad on the transfer list after failing to reach the knockout phase of the Apertura championship.
COMING UP: You can catch up on all of the weekend's goals in the Premier League goals with our video highlights, as well as take another look at Bolton's controversial opening goal against Stoke and Blackburn fans taking to the skies in their protests against manager Steve Kean.
Later today, Paul Parker will be filing his latest column, we'll be revealing our Team of the Week and there will be another in-depth look at football on the continent with our Pitchside Europe blog.