Hodgson plans for future with Rio in spite of rejection

Frank Dalleres
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ENGLAND manager Roy Hodgson insists Rio Ferdinand’s international career is far from over despite the Manchester United defender rejecting the chance to end his 18-month exile.

Ferdinand, 34, yesterday said an “intricate pre-planned programme” for managing a back complaint meant he would be unable to accept the recall for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro.

His decision prompted criticism of Hodgson for not determining Ferdinand’s availability before naming his squad last week, and raised fresh questions about the centre-back’s England future.

But Hodgson, who held talks with Ferdinand on Sunday, said: “I was pleased that Rio called and asked to meet with me. It was important to hear from him personally about the way he must manage his body between games.

“This is not to say he cannot play back-to-back games; he can and has proven so. He’s out this time due to particular pre-planned details already in place for his programme.

“I must place on record how I was impressed with his commitment to playing for England and I look forward to hopefully selecting him for squads in the future.”

Ferdinand later added on Twitter: “I’m gutted I had to pull out of England squad, but it was the right decision for my intricate pre-planned programme.”

Ferdinand, who has played in 27 of United’s 32 games this season, did not give specific details of his fitness regime but maintained he wanted to be considered for future squads.

“One thing I made clear was that my passion and commitment to represent my country is as strong as ever,” said the former West Ham player, who has been replaced in the squad for the fixtures, against San Marino on Friday and Montenegro on Tuesday, by Tottenham’s Steven Caulker.

“It is disappointing that I won’t be able to play a part in the upcoming games but I told Roy that I want to continue to be available for England and I look forward to working with him in the future.”

Ferdinand’s England involvement has been the subject of intense debate since Hodgson omitted him for last summer’s European Championship but did select Chelsea’s John Terry. The race row involving Terry and Ferdinand’s brother Anton, which saw the Blues skipper acquitted in court but later charged by the Football Association and retire from England duty, had raised questions about squad harmony if both men were selected for the tournament.