The Football Association is so confident of England qualifying automatically for the World Cup it is trying to arrange a friendly against Argentina for the gap in the fixture list left free for the play-off matches.
Roy Hodgson's team are in the runners-up position in Group H, trailing Montenegro by two points after four games. Only the winners qualify automatically but Hodgson was in confident mood during the FA's 150th anniversary commemorations, going public with his belief that the team could harbour realistic aspirations of winning next year's tournament in Brazil.
"There's always hope," he said. "Hope springs eternal. You can compare it to an amateur dart player. The more darts he throws in and around the centre, one day he will get it in the bullseye. If he's spreading them around the board, his chances will be less than if he's getting them in the 25 circle."
The FA is so convinced England will get their throwing arm right it has invited Argentina to fill one of the November slots in the fixture calendar. Uruguay have been contacted as a back-up option but the FA ideally wants Lionel Messi, arguably the best footballer on the planet, to play at Wembley in this landmark year.
That may not be feasible bearing in mind the World Cup play-offs occur on 15 and 19 November but the FA is taking the optimistic view after arranging a series of high-profile friendlies, starting with Brazil's visit to Wembley on 6 February. A rematch will take place in Rio on 2 June, four days after England renew acquaintances with the Republic of Ireland at Wembley, and Scotland will come south of the border on 14 August.
Fabio Capello, Hodgson's predecessor, was among the guests at the FA's anniversary launch after a personal request from the chairman, David Bernstein, the two men meeting for the first time since Capello's resignation as manager during the John Terry affair.
Capello had walked out of his job after the FA went above him to take the captaincy away from Terry but the Italian, now in charge of the Russia national team, made it clear he does not hold a grudge, saying: "We are all friends now. It is was very good to come back and see the people I used to work with. I have no problems with anyone. I can't talk about what happened but I am enjoying my life with Russia and my hope is that we play England in Brazil at the World Cup."
Bernstein said: "It was very nice to see Fabio again and tremendous to see him here talking with Roy Hodgson. When he left I made the point very clearly – and a lot of people didn't believe me – that we left on good terms. It was done with dignity and professionally.
"It wasn't the best day for anybody and it's always the same when you part from somebody – there's a long gap and you don't quite know how things are until you get back together again. We've done it now. There was no tension. It was a good coming together, with a lot of warmth. There were hugs all round and I'm really delighted."