With the Lions squad about to be announced, we check over British media predictions from the past few weeks including all the late mail.

1) Is the great Owen Farrell a 10 or 12?

The consensus is he will be taken primarily as an inside centre, and the debate starts there. Some commentators see him as cover at flyhalf, while others argue passionately that he must concentrate on inside centre without distraction, and build a combination with Irish flyhalf Johnny Sexton. Lions icon Ian McGeechan, for the Telegraph, wants Welshman Dan Biggar, who plays the game tough. Fin Russell is emerging as a bolter. England's George Ford is another favourite.

2) Who will try to match the brilliance of Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara at halfback?

Ireland's outstanding Conor Murray will go as the clear number one, backed by Rhys Webb (Wales). Next cab off the rank - England's Ben Youngs. Greig Laidlaw, who suffered an ankle injury during the Six Nations, is the unlucky one. He was one of the few Scots under consideration.

3) Is Sam Warburton a certainty to be captain?

Yes. But English commentator Stuart Barnes launched an excellent debate, saying Welshman Warburton has the wrong game for the test series because he is essentially a defensive player, whereas ball carriers are needed. Welsh lock Alun Why Jones is second favourite, giving Wales a head start. In Lions history, Wales have had the fewest captains with four. Ireland leads with 10. England and Scotland have had seven each.


4) Who will be the other loosies?

Ireland's rugged CJ Stander and lineout strongman Peter O'Mahoney are heavily favoured, particularly after O'Mahoney's game against England. Another Irishman Sean O'Brien will also be there. Fearless Scot Hamish Watson is named as a bolter candidate. Chris Robshaw has battled back from the World Cup disaster, but he isn't up to Lions quality in this company according to Barnes. World Cup winner Sir Clive Woodward, in the Daily Mail, has Welshman Justin Tipuric in his test starters.

4) Has there been much debate over No. 8?

No. It's straightforward. Billy Vunipola (England) is a certainty. Wales' Taulupe Faletau should be another, despite injury issues. Lots of ball running power there. Ireland's Jamie Heaslip will be the unlucky one.

5) Will England really dominate at lock?

Yes, but not so much as originally predicted, according to late mail. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales) was always touted as a thorn among roses - England's Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes could complete the locking squadron. Scottish brothers Johnny and Richie Gray will miss out. A bit of a shock - Woodward leaves out Lawes. The late call by the Telegraph is that Launchbury has missed out. Ireland's Iain Henderson could be the winner from that and there are fast finishing rumours that his countryman Donnacha Ryan - who played in the win over the All Blacks - will also tour.

6) Is controversial Kiwi Dylan Hartley in?

Yes, no, yes, no, yes, no. Ken Owens (Wales), speedy Irishman Sean Cronin and improving Englishman Jamie George made some early running. But Hartley outplayed George in a recent club game, and Gatland will need combative troops. Stuart Barnes, a previous Hartley naysayer, says he now believes the oft-suspended Hartley is probably a first test test starter. Cronin would have impact off the bench. Irish captain Rory Best offers set piece excellence and leadership. The latest Telegraph tip has Hartley missing out after a final selection meeting today.

7) Is there room for a bolter in what should be a powerful pack?

Rookie England tighthead prop Kyle Sinckler, who has played just eight tests and all off the bench, is a common bolter selection. He offers late-game impact. Ireland's Jack McGrath and Tadhg Furlong - with impressive games against the All Blacks - are certainties. So is England's Mako Vunipola. Injury troubled Cian Healy has ball carrying impact. England tighthead Dan Cole penalty problems have been highlighted but he is vastly experienced, vital for a tough tour like this. Countryman Joe Marler, a loosehead, is rated an excellent defender. Tom Francis of Wales might have a look in.

8) What are the basic criteria for selection?

Woodward, in the Mail, says players must be picked on fitness an form, yet makes an exception for England lock George Kruis - coming back from injury - and Sam Warburton, who is sidelined with a knee complaint. Woodward says Kruis is the type of player needed in New Zealand, and Warburton always returns with a "bang". Yet The Times pundit Stuart Barnes says Warburton takes time to hit form. A number of commentators stressed the need for the back three players to be good under the high ball.

9) Who captains the midweek team?

The Telegraph

suggests Ireland's captain Rory Best would be a strong midweek leader, although this job could be rotated. Barnes says Warburton is actually the ideal midweek leader.

10) Is there a bolter in the backs?

New Zealand-born former NRL player Ben Te'o has leapt into calculations, thanks to a Telegraph story naming him as the major bolter. The erratic Jonathan Joseph is a common pick, and retired Irish great Brian O'Driscoll is pushing for countryman Garry Ringrose. Woodward even promotes England wing Daly as a contender. Jamie Roberts is passed it. Late mail - Joseph misses out, Roberts is in.

11) How many wings will tour?

The Telegraph

have picked five, which seems like overkill. Big Welsh wing George North is a certainty, and versatile Englishmen Elliot Daly close to it. The versatile Daly also is a long range goalkicker, a key ingredient for the test campaign. Pundits point out Welsh wing Liam Williams was superb on the New Zealand tour last year. England's Anthony Watson is everyone's pick. Ireland's Keith Earls wins a mention, and England's Jack Nowell is a huge outside tip.

12) Could two New Zealanders make the centres?

Auckland-born former Junior Kiwi Ben Te'o is the big tip, Ireland's former Northland captain Jared Payne is an outsider although with some media support. Inside centre was seen as a closed shop - Farrell and Ireland's Robbie Henshaw. But the old Welsh carthorse Jamie Robert is the latest tip, care of the Telegraph's Gavin Mairs. English back Jonathan Joseph is the shock exclusion. Stuart Barnes warned the Lions against shifting Farrell between the No. 10 and 12 jerseys saying he must concentrate on combining with Ireland flyhalf Johnny Sexton for the tests. Welsh veteran Jonathan Davies is a common pick, and Ireland's Robbie Henshaw a certainty.

13) Will a Scottish player make the initial party?

Scotland fullback Stuart Hogg is everyone's pick after a couple of great Six Nations campaigns. The word is he will be the only Scot picked. Welshman Leigh Halfpenny's goalkicking is a strong pull but his form has not been top notch. Irish fullback Rob Kearney's high ball ability gives him the edge. That means combative England' fullback Mike Brown misses out.

14) What's the final word?

Some of the most interesting arguments come from Stuart Barnes, and he warned Gatland "not to go down the 2013 heroes route because Australia were awful - they didn't as much to lose the series as the Lions did to win it." Picking Welsh reject Roberts goes against that sage advice.

15) Any final tips?

The squad could contains up to 40 players, and the Telegraph has just confirmed out-of-favour England wing Jack Nowell as another bolter likely to make the trip. He can help cover fullback.

A consensus 40-man team.

Hogg, Halfpenny, Nowell, Watson, Williams, North, Daly, Te'o, Davies, Roberts, Henshaw, Farrell, Sexton, Biggar, Murray, Webb, Youngs; B. Vunipola, Faletau, O'Brien, Tipuric, Warburton (c), O'Mahoney, Stander, Jones, Itoje, Kruis, Lawes, Henderson, Ryan, Furlong, Sinckler, Cole, McGrath, M. Vunipola, Marler, Healy, Best, George, Owens.