A teenage Theo Walcott was the big gamble for England in 2006, but there's no doubt the most most tempting World Cup flutter for Fabio Capello this time around is Adam Johnson.
Manchester City's £6 million signing from Middlesbrough has impressed hugely this season. The 22-year-old eased seemlessly from the Championship to the Premier League, and has grown in confidence by the game.
But is Johnson ready for the biggest stage? Or could thrusting such raw talent into the limelight have a negative impact on his development?
Capello has a big decision to make. Johnson has no senior international experience and although he was selected in a 30-man shortlist for last month's friendly against Egypt, he missed the cut - and with it a chance to prove the doubters wrong.
But Johnson could yet play a significant role in South Africa. For City, he is operating on the right wing, despite being a left-footed player. With Aaron Lennon struggling with injury, Walcott out of form and Shaun Wright-Phillips on the sidelines, he could provide England with much-needed width from the bench.
In addition to raw pace, Johnson has compact technique and good understanding of the game. His distribution is sound, while his dribbling has proved a nightmare for defenders to handle. He's also not shy in front of goal.
Johnson's versatility could prove a pivotal factor when Capello decides his final 23. Like James Milner, he's comfortable on both flanks and capable of operating in a range of roles.
To stand a chance of boarding the plan, Johnson will surely need to feature in England's friendlies against Mexico and Japan.
If he is named by Capello for the Wembley date next May against the former, Johnson could yet prove England's surprise weapon in South Africa.
- Chris Davie