José Mourinho has argued that both Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard should retain their places in the England set-up for the summer's World Cup as reward for the significant contributions the pair made in qualification.
Both players have been included in Roy Hodgson's 30-man squad for Wednesday's friendly fixture against Denmark at Wembley, the last game before the national coach names his 23-man squad, plus seven stand-bys, on 13 May for the finals in Brazil. Yet Hodgson has admitted he "could have to leave a big-name player out" with Lampard and Cole increasingly under pressure from the likes of Jordan Henderson, Ross Barkley and Luke Shaw.
Only four outfield players featured for more than Lampard's 519 minutes in England's unbeaten qualifying campaign with the veteran, who boasts 103 caps over a 15-year international career, contributing in seven of the team's 10 fixtures. Cole, who has 106 appearances at the highest level, was used more sparingly but three of his four games – in Poland, Montenegro and Ukraine – came in England's most daunting fixtures.
The left-back has started all of the national side's games at major tournaments since Euro 2000, yet he has lost his place at Chelsea more recently to César Azpilicueta and has started only three Premier League games since 2 November. The 33-year-old, who is out of contract in the summer, may be utilised at Craven Cottage on Saturday but has only begun one game for his club side since mid-January, with Shaw's impressive emergence at Southampton threatening his position within the set-up.
"It's not my decision, but I'd try to be pragmatic," said Mourinho. "So if, one day, I am the national team manager of any country, I think the players that take me to the European Championships or to the World Cup are the players I'm going to take to the European Championships or the World Cup. They took me, by qualifying. After that, I take them on my plane. I don't think it makes a lot of sense if you trust some players to do qualification and, after that, you don't select them and pick others instead."
Another Chelsea player fretting over his inclusion in Brazil is Fernando Torres, a scorer in midweek at Galatasaray but whose fitness will be monitored before the derby at Fulham, after the striker was omitted for the World Cup holders' friendly against Italy next week. Diego Costa, the Brazilian-born forward who has played in two friendlies for the South Americans, was included for the game in Madrid and could make his debut for Spain after qualifying on residency grounds.
The Atlético Madrid striker had been called up for November's friendlies against Equatorial Guinea and South Africa only to miss out through injury. "When, one day I'm a national coach, I will take only players born in my country, that's for sure," added Mourinho. "Or if not born in my country, then with parents with a big connection with the country. I will never take a player just because he has a passport from my country just because he might make my team stronger.
"For me, the national team means a lot. If, one day, I coach Portugal, I'll go with the Portuguese. I don't do it. The national team is Portugal. It's not 'Portugal and Friends'. Portugal is for the Portuguese. It is an option, and anyone is free to have his options, and I'm not criticising … I'm just saying what I would do if I'm a national coach."
Chelsea make the short trip to Fulham as league leaders hoping to extend their advantage at the top against the side who currently prop up the division, but with Mourinho respectful of his opposite number, Felix Magath, and retaining an emotional admiration for his local rivals. "I don't want them to go down," he added. "If I could choose I'd take defeat tomorrow, then 10 victories and the title.
"I'd like the London teams to stay up. I have that emotional connection with Fulham, who are our neighbours and our rivals. Rivals need each other, so hopefully they can keep their place in the division."