Joleon Lescott has insisted that Rio Ferdinand and John Terry remain England's first-choice centre-backs despite the emergence of younger rivals.
Gary Cahill again started alongside captain Terry in Friday's 2-2 draw against Montenegro, with the versatile Phil Jones slotting in on the right.
A number of other defenders are competing for places in Fabio Capello's squad for Euro 2012, while Ferdinand's ticket on the plane no longer seems assured after he was left out of the clash with Montenegro.
Capello has challenged Ferdinand to put a run of games together before he earns a recall, and Lescott has given his backing to the Manchester United man.
Lescott, who was also omitted from the squad for the 2-2 draw in Podgorica, is determined to win a spot at Poland and Ukraine but feels Ferdinand is still first in the pecking order to partner Terry when fit.
"The main objective obviously was to qualify and now we have done that there are a few friendlies coming up for people to get in the squad and stake a claim for a place in the team next summer," Lescott told Sky Sports News.
Strength in depth
"There has always been competition. Obviously people talk about them (new) players but when Rio and JT are fully fit they are the established duo and rightly so.
"As much as we have got strength in depth in that position, the two we are all trying to chase are the best in the country."
Asked if Ferdinand was still first choice, Lescott replied: "Yes, of course.
"He has obviously had injuries but for me he has been one of the most consistent centre-halves in the Premier League ever, so I don't think you can doubt his ability and when he is fit he is hard to beat."