Roy Hodgson has left the door open for Ashley Cole to come out of international retirement if Leighton Baines suffers a serious injury in the build-up to the World Cup.
After 13 years' service, Cole retired from international duty on Sunday after Hodgson informed the Chelsea left-back he had not made his 23-man squad, which was officially announced on Monday.
Hodgson has opted for Baines and 18-year-old Luke Shaw in his squad instead of Cole.
Should Baines get an injury, Hodgson would be left with Shaw as his only option at left-back.
Shaw may be one of the most exciting players in the Barclays Premier League, but he only has 45 minutes of international experience in his locker.
When asked whether he would consider calling Cole up if Baines suffered an injury, the England manager said: "You would have to ask Ashley that... I would like to think so."
Hodgson has not named Cole among his 30-man provisional squad, but the England boss could draft the 33-year-old in if Baines gets injured after June 2.
The England manager insisted he could not place Cole on the seven-man standby list out of respect for the Chelsea defender, who has 107 caps.
If Cole does not make a return after possibly the briefest spell in retirement, Hodgson's only other option would be to draft standby player Jon Flanagan - a natural right-back - into the 23.
"Circumstances could make the decision a very good one or it could make it a very bad one," Hodgson said of dropping Cole.
"If Baines suffered an injury (in the friendly) against Peru (on May 30), it would make the selection of Shaw a very bad selection.
"If we go through the World Cup with Baines playing the majority of games and Shaw coming on and doing very well it makes it a very good one."
Shaw is also the subject of a £27million bid from Manchester United.
Hodgson wants Shaw and Adam Lallana, who has been linked with a move to Liverpool, to have their club futures sorted by the time they land in Miami for England's second training camp on June 1.
"Luke Shaw is quite a strong lad mentally," Hodgson said.
"He will get a lot of help from us to make sure his head doesn't get scrambled.
"I would like (transfer deals) to be sorted before we go to Miami.
"They could have a medical if we had a free afternoon in Miami, but I am definitely not going to have agents swirling around the camp."
The Football Association's decision to announce the squad at the headquarters of team sponsor Vauxhall opened the England manager up to all sorts of car-related questions in his press conference.
After a relatively uninspiring yet unbeaten qualifying campaign, many fans expected England to struggle in Brazil this summer.
But with the emergence of Shaw, Raheem Sterling and Lallana, Hodgson has every right to insist England should not be regarded as a clapped out old banger.
He even thinks England have a chance of winning the tournament for the first time since 1966.
"I believe the squad can win the World Cup," he said.
"Otherwise what's the point?"
Indeed there is a rather youthful and bold look about the 23-man squad Hodgson named.
Ten players are under the age 25. Only six have been to a World Cup before and nine of the 20 outfield players have 10 caps or fewer to their name.
Hodgson has shrugged off the notion that he is a conservative coach by selecting Sterling, Ross Barkley, Lallana, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson in midfield.
Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley have been left on the standby list following their poor displays with Manchester United while Barkley hit the headlines recently with a stunning goal against Manchester City.
The Everton midfielder has been in fine form in the second half of the season, but Hodgson has warned against expecting too much too soon from the teenager.
"He is a very exciting player, but I hope people are realistic with the level of expectation," Hodgson said.
Toronto striker Jermain Defoe, 31, is only good enough for a place on the standby list. John Stones, 19, is rewarded for his fine debut season with Everton by being named on the reserves' list.
As expected Rickie Lambert is favoured up front ahead of Andy Carroll, who has paid the price for an injury-ravaged season with West Ham while Fraser Forster made the cut as Hodgson's third-choice goalkeeper.
There were no surprises in defence. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling join first-choice defensive pairing Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka in the 23 while Glen Johnson takes the only right-back spot as Kyle Walker is out through injury.