Blades keeper Long lands gong
Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has stood by his
decision to fly to Qatar after pulling out of the England
The 34-year-old was called up by Roy Hodgson for the World Cup
qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro.
However, he turned down the chance to add to his 81 caps due to
his detailed pre-planned training and medical programme for his
long-standing back injury.
Ferdinand was then criticised in some quarters after it emerged
he was flying to Doha on a 15-hour round trip to appear as a pundit
for Al Jazeera Sport television for the San Marino match.
But he said: “I met the boss in London and we spoke about my
regime and (I’m doing) what I’ve done at the last few international
breaks – the same.
“I was pencilled in to have certain treatments, had them and
then I’ve come away to have some rest time and to recuperate and
get myself ready.
“I think obviously the situation with myself and the national
team is well documented.
“But this isn’t something that I’m doing differently. This is
something I’ve done in past international get-togethers when I’ve
not been involved.
“I’ve had a course of treatment that I’ve had to have and then
to go and rest and get ready and recuperate – and that’s what I’ve
continued to do.”
Ferdinand has not given up hope of appearing for England in the
future and revealed he is still very much a part of Hodgson’s
“He made it very clear that he’ll consider me for the next
squads and that will be fantastic,” he said.
Ferdinand added he had cleared the trip with United before
“I spoke to the club and the club doctors and the physios who
have helped me organise the regime that I’m on. But ultimately it
was spelled out for us anyway,” he said.
The fight reportedly left another man in a coma, the Foreign
Reports in Italy say that the 21-year-old man was arrested on
Thursday night after a fight outside the Bounty pub in Bologna, 75
miles (120km) from the enclave republic where England’s World Cup
qualifying match takes place.
Local newspaper La Repubblica reported that a 65-year-old
England fan was in a coma in hospital after having major surgery on
a head injury.
A Foreign office spokeswoman said: “We can confirm the arrest of
a British national in Italy on 21 March. We are providing consular
La Repubblica reported that a group of at least seven football
fans, who had been drinking, started fighting outside the pub in
the Via delle Moline. They described the 65-year-old defending
himself with a bar stool before being punched and then hitting his
head on the ground as he fell.
England take on the part-time minnows of San Marino at the
Stadio Olimpico, before Tuesday’s crucial trip to Montenegro.
Long conceded just three goals in six League One games all month
and was man of the match in a 0-0 home draw with Leyton Orient.
Long said: “I would not have believed it if someone had asked me
in pre-season that I would have played as many games as I have this
season but I like to take it in my stride and keep my consistency
“My ambition this season is to get promotion – I want to get
that first before talking about anything else.”
Blades boss Danny Wilson added: “George has been brilliant and
his temperament is unquestionable.
“He is learning more with every game he plays and goalkeeping
coach Darren Ward has done an excellent job with him, his
shot-stopping is certainly up there with the best in the