Blanc surprised at Rio Ferdinand's England absence
France coach Laurent Blanc has expressed his surprise at England's refusal to select Rio Ferdinand for the European Championship, especially considering Roy Hodgson's injury problems in defense.
Blanc, a former center half who played briefly with Ferdinand at Manchester United, admitted he was surprised that Hodgson left out a player with 81 caps for such an important tournament. France and England meet in their opening Group D match on Monday.
''I think Rio Ferdinand is a very good player, even though he might be coming to the end of his career,'' added Blanc, who finished his stellar career at United in the 2002-03 season, soon after Ferdinand joined from Leeds United. ''But it's true that it was surprising not to see him picked given all the injuries they had in that sector. But I'm not in (Hodgson's) position.''
Hodgson insists Ferdinand was left out of the initial 23-man squad for ''football reasons'' and not over concerns he couldn't play with John Terry, who is facing trial for allegedly racially abusing Ferdinand's brother, Anton, the Queens Park Rangers defender.
After Gary Cahill was ruled out of Euro 2012 with a fractured jaw, Hodgson selected Liverpool defender Martin Kelly, who has just one substitute appearance for England.
''Every team has its problems. We have a few, the English might have some. With the English it seems to be injury problems,'' Blanc said Thursday. ''I know Rio Ferdinand well, and I think the choice not to take him, from afar, is not a sporting one. There are other things, but I don't want to get involved in the affairs of the English team. It's not my job, it's not my role.''
Ferdinand's representative Jamie Moralee recently lamented what he called ''a total lack of respect from Hodgson and the FA.''
FA chairman David Bernstein refused to be drawn on the matter when England arrived at their Krakow base in Poland on Wednesday.
''It's an issue I'm happy to talk about when the tournament is over, maybe,'' he would only say. ''We are here to talk about the tournament and about the future and that's it.''
Ferdinand recently tweeted ''What reasons?'' in a clear sign that he questioned the decision to leave him out.
--- AP Sports Writer Rob Harris contributed to this report.