There are some occasions over which even an itinerant 65-year-old England manager can find himself getting kittenishly excited. With England due to play Brazil at Wembley on Wednesday, a bravura friendly to kick off the FA's 150-year anniversary celebrations, Roy Hodgson admits the prospect has already kept him awake a little. "I was trying to remember and as far as I can tell this is the first time I've played against Brazil," England's manager said, casting his mind back through a career that has also included spells in charge of Switzerland, the UAE and Finland.
Hodgson has also been counting up his own managerial caps ("I think I'm up to 90") spurred on by the impending minor chord fanfare for another of his players reaching the 100 mark. For all the grander themes to a match that will also mark Luiz Felipe Scolari's first back in charge of the future World Cup hosts, Wednesday will also provide the occasion, barring injury, of Ashley Cole's 100th England appearance, a grand achievement for a player who perhaps more than any other draws into focus the occasionally ambiguous relationship between England's supporters and the outgoing crop of Premier League all-stars.
If Hodgson confirmed Cole would play at least a half, he refused to be drawn on incidents in the player's past – from the manner of his departure from Arsenal, with its unedifying autobiographical confessions, to the recent incident when Cole shot a student with an air rifle during training – that have overshadowed, for some, his enduring on-field excellence.
"The things you refer to occurred when I wasn't in the country," Hodgson said. "Certainly if I had been I wouldn't have been hanging on every word said in the newspaper. I can judge him over the nine months I've worked with him. I find him a very good professional, a very good footballer, a quiet man who prefers to do his talking on the football field. If Ashley has had that treatment [from the press] it's a fact of life, but I judge him as a football player I don't get involved in what the public think. Is he going to be a good player, is he going to be a good colleague and help us win games? That's what interests me."
With Hodgson announcing a full-strength squad, England's manager has confirmed that this will not be an "experimental" friendly and that England will approach it seeking above all to win.
For Hodgson this presents intriguing selection issues: a chance to review Leighton Baines's claim to a place ahead of Cole; a plethora of central midfield options, with Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick and Aaron Lennon notable returnees.
Hodgson has in the past bemoaned his inability to start Jack Wilshere and Steven Gerrard in the same team, and if he gave no indication that would be the case here, he does have hopes the two can form a telling partnership "I believe Wilshere has the personality, the character and certainly the quality to accept the pressure. I foresee a fantastic England career for him," he said.
"You can't force relationships on people. But their performances [in opposition at the Emirates last Wednesday] were exactly what you'd want from two top players. They were respectful in a heated situation, both defended against each other without resorting to a silly tackle or a foul challenge. Interestingly that often happens, at the end of the game the two top Johnnies have that mutual respect and I thought I saw that with Steven and Jack."
One player who seems extremely unlikely to be taking a secondary lap of honour in an England shirt is the freshly returned David Beckham, whose move to Paris Saint-Germain has placed him no more on Hodgson's radar than the dalliance in Los Angeles.
"I'm pleased for him, but when was the last time he played for England? Four years ago. For four years he's been more than prepared to play his football and not think about England.
"If he pulls me aside on Wednesday and says: 'By the way I'm off to Paris and I'm going to play well there, keep me in mind'. I'll say: 'Fine, David'. But I'm not expecting that to happen. I think he's going to PSG to continue his career in the same way he has with Los Angeles [Galaxy]. I don't know if he's gone there to revive an England career."