Barton and Nolan ignored by our friends in the south
When Alan Pardew triggered the debate of whether Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton should be called up for England he cracked open the proverbial big can of worms that simply underlined all that is wrong with our national game.
When it comes to Nolan, the question has to be: Is he good enough to play international football for England?
My question would be: Is he as good as most of the players that already play for England under Fabio Capello and would he make an impact?
The answer to my own question would be, yes and on both counts, especially against Wales in the next Euro 2012 qualifier.
Barton continues to be hit over the head with, in his own words, the "bad boy stick".
He's been in the form of his life this season while Nolan has 11 goals, more than Gerrard and Lampard put together.
True it isn't just goals, but what price influence and a bit of tubthumping into an England side that don't seem capable of fighting their way out of a wet paper bag when the heat is on and the big game players are needed?
Surely Barton and Nolan's performances this season in the Premier League are good enough to be considered for international football?
If not what's the problem?
There have been worse players than Nolan and if it is down to the bad boy past of Barton, then double standards are being applied.
Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand and John Terry have all had big problems off the pitch, but Capello not only continues to pick them, he has created his own public problem about which one should be his captain and role model to millions of English youngsters!
Barton's off the field problems have been well documented and it has been tiring listening to them being reeled off time after time.
In my view he is misunderstood in some ways and requires the right type of man management to get the best out of him, Chris Hughton managed it and Alan Pardew has had some success so far.
Nothing troublesome seems to be repeated when it comes to Gerrard, Ferdinand or Terry.
To add insult to injury, Capello doesn't usually travel further north than Birmingham and has hardly been to St James' Park.
Standards have dipped dramatically when it comes to England.
In years gone by I used to be counting the hours down to the big kick off and have pride watching the stars lucky enough to be wearing the Three Lions and belting out the national anthem.
Now, I find it a chore to watch England and the lack of characters in the squad make watching our country sterile and depressing.
We weren't good enough to qualify for Euro 2008 and we were utter trash at the World Cup last year, scraping through the group before being humiliated by an ordinary German side.
Against Germany at 4-1 down with Emile Heskey coming on as sub, I knew that watching the rest of the game in the World Cup would only shave a few more days of my life, so I slipped out of the pub to avoid insanity.
It wasn't the heartache of Italia 90 or Euro 96 when I felt we were desperately unlucky.
Or even France 98 when I felt we were cheated out of the competition with an exciting young team.
I walked up Wembley Way to see Andy Carroll's debut in an England shirt in November against France with hopes of seeing a bit of fighting spirit against a team that had imploded in the World Cup.
I walked back down Wembley Way wishing I'd watched Ceefax instead.
That's where we are at ladies and gentleman.
The years of having Beckham, Scholes, Shearer and Owen at their best are long gone and not likely to return soon.
Since then we have beaten some average sides in qualifying and drew a blank against the not so mighty Montenegro.
To rub salt into very open wounds, Capello thought that the answer was the player who has more fouls under his belt than goals in Kevin Davies.
Would calling up Nolan or Barton be any better than a Gareth Barry or an Ashley Young?
Is Nolan or Barton as good or better than Scott Parker?
Can Capello really make an accurate judgement without even watching Barton or Nolan live?
Why does Capello overlook anybody with an ounce of character, God help a young Gazza if he came through the ranks these days.
And are the likes of Jack Wilshere (who crumbled in the heat of big games against Barca and the Carling Cup final) or James Milner really going to provide the "blood and snot" performances that are going to provide a much needed win against Wales?
Or even avoid the defeat at the Millennium Stadium that could - or arguably should - cost the Italian his job.
Yes, this squeaky clean blueprint for the future means very little for the FA if they don't concentrate on where they are now - and at the moment we're nowhere.
The square pegs to go in square holes are needed here and Nolan and/or Barton could provide them.
Is there are north-south divide?
In summary, my feeling is, that while Nolan and Barton may not be everybody's cup of tea at England level, why, with Capello exhausting his options and muddling his way through his lucrative contract, are form players being snubbed by the Italian?
Like I said, it's a big can of worms.