WHEN Sergio Aguero capped the most dramatic of Premier League seasons with his late, late winner shortly before 5pm on Sunday, it was not just Manchester City fans whose summer the Argentinian made.
England fans, too, were surely left buoyed by the goal that left the blue half of Manchester celebrating their first League Championship in 44 years and belting out their Blue Moon anthem.
Not only will the Three Lions squad that flies out to Ukraine and Poland next month ahead of Euro 2012 more than likely include four or five players who have excelled for City this term but one of those, Joleon Lescott, will do so with a clear conscience.
The calamitous error that led to Djibril Cisse equalising for QPR shortly after half-time at the Etihad Stadium could, but for Aguero’s ‘94th-minute’ winner, have left the the former Everton defender a psychological wreck come the summer, which is when England will need him at his best.
That is because with all the indications being that John Terry will be excluded today when Roy Hodgson names his 23-man squad for Euro 2012 and Sir Alex Ferguson having said last week that Rio Ferdinand’s body is not up to the punishing schedule, Lescott and Gary Cahill seem to have as good a chance as any of being England’s first-choice partnership in defence.
Certainly, Lescott, even allowing for his mistake against QPR, has had a super season for City.
Vincent Kompany may have deservedly claimed all the plaudits this season with Alan Hansen, on Match of the Day, even going so far as to describe the Dutch defender as the best signing in Premier League history.
But Lescott has been immense and comfortably the most consistent English-born defender in the top flight.
Terry’s likely absence could be put down to a number of factors, ranging from his continuing ability to court controversy both on and off the field through to his pending court case for allegedly racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.
But, on pure footballing terms, the case for the Chelsea defender’s inclusion is weak.
In South Africa, Terry could not get anywhere near the fleet-footed German attack as England crashed out of the World Cup courtesy of a humbling 4-1 defeat.
Two years on, his powers have eroded even further, as has been evident on several occasions this term – most notably as Chelsea slumped 5-3 at home to Arsenal and then 4-1 just last week at Liverpool.
Hodgson’s desire to have experience to fall back on in Ukraine and Poland may well lead to Rio Ferdinand being included in the 23.
But with a schedule that involves playing every three or four days, asking the former Leeds defender to play more than a bit-part role could, as Ferguson suggested last week, be too much.
Far more sensible, therefore, to leave Ferdinand out completely and partner Cahill with Lescott with Phil Jagielka taken along as back-up along with versatile Michah Richards, whose inclusion would mean Hodgson also having cover for former Sheffield United full-back Kyle Walker.
England will, injury permitting, be well served behind the back four with Joe Hart having proved himself as one of the best goalkeepers in Europe. Sadly, Hodgson’s attempts to coax Ben Foster out of international retirement have failed, meaning Robert Green, Scott Carson and John Ruddy will fight it out for the other two berths set.
In midfield, Scott Parker underwent an injection in his troublesome Achilles last Monday in an attempt to be fit after missing the last four games of the Premier League season.
Spurs manager Harry Redknapp estimates it will take six or seven days before the medical staff at White Hart Lane will know with any certainty if Parker has a chance of being fit so, for now, Hodgson seems certain to name him in the 23. A final decision can then be made after the weekend.
If Parker does miss out, Gareth Barry must fancy his chances of extending a successful season at club level by starting for England come June 11 while Michael Carrick could also come into Hodgson’s plans.
Over the past couple of years, Ashley Young has become an important member of the line-up so seems certain to start along with Steven Gerrard – not least because with Terry out of the picture he must be a leading contender to be handed the armband by Hodgson, who developed a mutual respect with the player despite only a short spell on Merseyside.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been pushing for inclusion but expect Theo Walcott to get the nod along with James Milner, who, like club-mate Richards and Phil Jones, of Manchester United, can play in a number of positions.
Up front is perhaps the biggest quandary for Hodgson due to Wayne Rooney being suspended for the first two group games against France and Sweden.
Rooney, who along with Ashley Cole is a proven world-class performer, has to make the trip for if England do make it through to the knockout stages, his brilliance could be the difference to England’s prospects.
In his absence, however, Hodgson has a number of options with perhaps the most sensible being Andy Carroll, revitalised in the final few weeks of the season, playing up front on his own with Young just behind.
Young could, of course, start up front but that would negate much of what he does best, while Danny Wellbeck and Dean Sturridge are, surely, to be best used as impact substitutes.
Hodgson’s last taste of managing at a major Championships ended in defeat at the first knockout stage as his Switzerland side lost 3-0 to Spain.
Euro 2012 may well end the same, though considering the dramatic events at the Etihad Stadium last Sunday then maybe, just maybe, a side with a spine made up largely of still buoyant City stars may well go one better.