Leicester prop Graham Rowntree insists Tigers team-mate Ben Kay has the credentials to become the next England skipper.
Fellow Tiger Martin Johnson could announce his international retirement before the start of the 2004 RBS 6 Nations, bringing to an end a glorious career which has seen him amass 84 caps and lead two British Lions tours.
The 33-year-old's exit will mark the end of an era for one of British sport's greatest figures, but the depth of talent within the current England squad means there are several candidates ready to fill his shoes.
But Rowntree believes 28-year-old forward Kay - a regular England international who is expected to hold down his place in Sir Clive Woodward's starting line-up - should be given consideration.
"Ben certainly has all the right attributes," he said. "He reads the game well and is a good motivator.
"Not many people will lead in the same way as Martin did. Johnno was a warrior - he doesn't say much he just does it and everyone follows.
"But Ben could certainly do the job. There is plenty of competition though. All kind of names are being thrown into the hat such as Jonny Wilkinson and Lawrence Dallaglio. Who knows who Clive will pick?"