International future unclear for Ferdinand

ENGLAND manager Roy Hodgson has cast doubt on defender Rio Ferdinand’s international future, after learning the 34-year-old will be analysing tonight’s World Cup qualifier against San Marino for Al Jazeera television in Qatar.

After being overlooked for the England squad at last summer’s European Championship, Ferdinand was recalled by Hodgson this week, but quickly withdrew citing concerns about following a pre-planned medical programme.

Hodgson had said on Monday that he “looked forward to selecting him [Ferdinand] for squads in the future”, but yesterday the former Fulham boss took a less convincing stance regarding the prospect of the Manchester United defender representing his country again.

“Let’s wait and see,” said the 65-year-old. “It’s a question of how his injury situation will impact on him playing for England. I’m not really interested in players who aren’t here. At the moment it’s speculation about a longer-term future.

“He wasn’t able to accept the invitation, so what he actually does and how he operates in the coming couple of weeks is his business.”

Ferdinand, who has won 81 caps for England, has not played for the Three Lions since June 2011 and took to social networking site Twitter to defend his latest absence.

“I’ve flown out for some pre-planned downtime…with a bit of punditry thrown in for a game I would have watched anyway,” he tweeted to more than four million followers.

“No different from what I done on the last 10day international break...thank you guys.”

With Ferdinand absent and Chelsea defender Gary Cahill struggling with a knee injury, Hodgson has four inexperienced central defenders to choose from in tonight’s match against San Marino, who lie joint-bottom of the Fifa world rankings.

Tottenham’s Steven Caulker, Newcastle’s Steven Taylor and Manchester United’s Chris Smalling have won just five England senior caps between them.

Manchester City’s Joleon Lescott is Hodgson’s other option.

However, Cahill is expected to be fit to play some part in Tuesday’s qualifier against Montenegro, who currently top Group H and are two points clear of England.