Can James answer England call?
David James is hooked on television series "The Wire" - but even that particular drama might struggle to match some of the harrowing storylines Portsmouth's England goalkeeper has been forced to cope with this season.
James was in danger of being last man standing as Pompey lost a host of high-profile stars, briefly gained a new owner, then stood on the precipice after it was revealed players had not been paid.
So it was understandable that James was able to relax and finally enjoy moments of reflection in the opulent surroundings of England's Hertfordshire hideaway after life finally took a turn for the better.
Portsmouth ended a run of seven straight Premier League defeats with victory at Wolves, Saudi business tycoon Ali Al Faraj completed his takeover of the club from Sulaiman Al Fahim, those missing pay packets finally appeared and James was back with England.
If those outside Fratton Park regarded Portsmouth's problems as a little local difficulty, the next question facing this most rounded of individuals is of major national importance.
Can he solve England coach Fabio Capello's biggest problem as the countdown to the World Cup starts?
The auditions to find England's goalkeeper for South Africa start in the Ukraine on Saturday and this most crucial of roles is still up for grabs - and a major cause for concern.
James has never achieved true consistency, a failing emphasised by the statistic that his 48 England caps have been won over an international career that will have spanned more than 13 years by the time the campaign starts in June.
And are England's hopes really safe in the hands of a time-served Premier League veteran who will be within touching distance of his 40th birthday when the World Cup starts?
David James has not played for England since April's game with Ukraine
This will only be answered once the action gets under way - but none of England's goalkeeping contenders have mounted a convincing case and there has to be a worry that Capello may be forced to bank on a keeper who has often been tried but rarely trusted.
It is a tribute to James's professionalism and enduring ability that he is still in pole position to take the England goalkeeper's jersey in South Africa, but also a stark illustration of the lack of serious alternatives available to Capello.
Sound judges such as Spurs boss Harry Redknapp, who James played under at Portsmouth, still regard him as England's finest goalkeeper by some distance. And yet if he does play in South Africa, he will be accompanied by the uncertainty of many observers.
West Ham's Robert Green, like James, has been unable to offer total reliability despite his game developing at Upton Park. Gianfranco Zola rates Green highly and is no doubt quick to press his case to fellow countryman Capello.
The smart money appears to be on James getting the nod if he is fit, a selection that undoubtedly carries an element of risk but which may ultimately be the best Capello can do - not exactly the ideal circumstances in which to fill arguably the most crucial position in England's World Cup team.
James, of course, would be following in the footsteps of Italian legend Dino Zoff, who led Italy to World Cup success in Spain in 1982 at 40.
He was a boyhood hero to James, who revealed he used the money from his grass-cutting job, a task he says saw him electrocute himself on the day Spurs faced Manchester City in the 1981 FA Cup Final, to buy a pair of replica Zoff gloves.
This is the same James who was labelled "a danger to his own players" by a Spanish daily newspaper during Euro 2004 and whose surname has had the tag "Calamity" attached to it on a regular basis when high-profile errors have been made.
With Manchester United's Ben Foster playing himself out of contention on a weekly basis, it now appears a straight fight between James and Green - and Capello may offer an indication of his thinking when he names his line-up in Dnepropetrovsk.
And the brutal truth is that the position that used to be regarded as England's greatest strength is now their biggest weakness as Capello plots for success in South Africa.
Capello's first-choice line-up looks set in stone in most places. The right-flank spot is still a source of competition and Joe Cole will look to enter the equation, but the goalkeeping position is wide open and none of the contenders have made a compelling case to be the undisputed first choice.
James is used to living with the doubters, but the man who is a keen artist, an illustrator of children's books and a passionate supporter of the National Literary Trust, copes with it via his own development and the help of his trusted sports psychologist Keith Power.
If his confidence has been dented by events on and off the pitch at Portsmouth it does not show, and he was even able to deliver some black humour when he said: "It's probably just as well we didn't win before we beat Wolves because we wouldn't have been able to afford the bonuses anyway."
It was a remark that reflected James' maturity and admirable ability to handle all aspects of the game, qualities that will serve him well if he is the goalkeeper England eventually turn to once the build up to South Africa is concluded.
He could get the opportunity to silence his critics once and for all on football's greatest stage - but the simple fact that doubts still hang over who will be England's goalkeeper in South Africa is confirmation that this is the biggest cloud over their World Cup ambitions.
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