United defender Ferdinand back in England squad
Rio Ferdinand was recalled to the England squad on Thursday
after two years blighted by injuries and the fallout from a racism
case that appeared to threaten his international future.
The 34-year-old defender last played for his country in June
2011 but is set to add to his 81 caps by playing in World Cup
qualifiers this month against San Marino and Montenegro.
A place in Roy Hodgson’s squad opened up because Phil Jagielka
was injured, Joleon Lescott was dropped and, more significantly, as
recognition for Ferdinand’s performances to help Manchester United
go 12 points clear in the Premier League title race.
”At the moment he’s in a rich vein of form,” Hodgson said.
”For me it was a no-brainer. We need a good center half, he is a
good center half and he’s playing well so I’ve selected him.
”It’s not more complicated than that. There are no sinister
reasons behind the selection or his lack of selection in the
But Ferdinand was annoyed last year with the FA after believing
he had been snubbed for a place in the European Championship squad
amid the fallout from a case in which his brother was racially
abused by England defender John Terry.
Hodgson insisted Ferdinand didn’t go to Poland and Ukraine for
”football reasons” and not due to any potential conflict with
Terry, who went to the tournament despite being stripped of the
England captaincy because of the racism case.
Despite Terry announcing his international retirement in
September before serving a four-match racism ban, Hodgson continued
to indicate that Ferdinand wasn’t in his plans – most memorably to
fans on the London Underground.
Just a month ago, in a tetchy exchange with reporters, Hodgson
said: ”I don’t want to talk about him.”
Now, though, Ferdinand could be heading to the World Cup in
Brazil next year.
”He’s in the squad in order to play rather than to make up the
numbers,” Hodgson said.
”2014 is a long way off but if Rio Ferdinand is still playing
the way he is at the moment, in 2014 he is going to be a major
candidate for a place in the squad.”
Hodgson hopes Ferdinand will have no issues playing alongside
Ashley Cole, as he was unhappy about the Chelsea defender giving
evidence in the court case when Terry was cleared of a criminal
Ferdinand was fined 45,000 pounds (then $71,000) by the FA after
being found guilty of a racially offensive tweet for endorsing a
tweet describing Cole as a ”choc ice,” a slang term perceived as
meaning black on the outside and white on the inside.
”I don’t envisage any problems,” Hodgson said. ”If there are
any I’ll have to deal with them but I hope that the long-term
friendship will re-emerge and any unfortunate incidents along the
way will be quickly forgotten.”
There is another returning defender: Michael Dawson, whose last
England appearance came in March 2011 against Wales.
Dawson’s Tottenham teammate, Scott Parker, is back in contention
for the first time since the Euro 2012 quarterfinal loss to Italy
partially due to injuries.
Goalkeeper Ben Foster is also back after reversing his 2011
decision to take an indefinite break from international football
due to injury issues.
Foster, who worked with Hodgson at West Bromwich Albion, will
provide competition for Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart.
England is two points behind Montenegro in their World Cup
qualifying group with six matches to go.
Goalkeepers: Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion), Joe Hart
(Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Celtic).
Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea),
Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Michael Dawson (Tottenham), Rio Ferdinand
(Manchester United), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Chris Smalling
(Manchester United), Kyle Walker (Tottenham).
Midfielders: Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Tom Cleverley
(Manchester United), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard
(Chelsea), Aaron Lennon (Tottenham), James Milner (Manchester
City), Leon Osman (Everton), Scott Parker (Tottenham), Alex
Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Ashley Young
Strikers: Jermain Defoe (Tottenham), Wayne Rooney (Manchester
United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Danny Welbeck (Manchester