There is plenty of intrigue over which of the former world champions no longer on the tour will take advantage of Barry Hearn’s offer and assume their place in qualifying for this year’s World Championship at the Crucible.

Joe Johnson was cagey on the question on the eve of the German Masters, but we here at Inside Snooker are still putting him down as a probable, along with Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor. For the last two mentioned that would have extra poignancy (and hopefully column inches) given it is the 30th anniversary of their epic final battle.

Cliff Thorburn remains a possibility, John Parrott an outside chance and Terry Griffiths a likely non-starter.

Much of the focus will be on Stephen Hendry’s intentions, but the Scot, a record seven-time winner in Sheffield, continues to tease the snooker public – dropping the odd hint that he misses the competition, but also insisting that he has nothing to prove and will not be making a comeback as a mere PR stunt and prelude to a big and embarrassing defeat.

There is also some speculation that contractual issues with his current paymasters at a rival Chinese table manufacturer might make it difficult to play in a Star tables tournament, but presumably even if true those could be negotiated if the will was there.