ENGLAND midfielder Frank Lampard believes Rio Ferdinand could yet have an international future despite the Manchester United defender spurning a recall for the World Cup qualifying double-header.
Ferdinand, 34, was offered the chance to return to the squad after more than 18 months in the wilderness but told manager Roy Hodgson he could not because of a preordained regime to manage a back injury.
His withdrawal on Monday left Hodgson with a shortage of centre-back options – a problem exacerbated yesterday by Gary Cahill being ruled of Friday’s trip to San Marino – and cast further doubt on his England future.
But Lampard said: “He’s a top-drawer player and he’s certainly not finished. Looking at his performances against Real Madrid, especially away, he was outstanding.
“Regular performances week-in and week-out, he’s a top performer – has been and still is. I don’t know the ins and outs of his future but the way he’s playing at the minute he is one of the top defenders in the Premier League for sure.”
Uncapped Newcastle centre-back Steven Taylor, 27, has been drafted into the squad as cover for Chelsea’s Cahill, who will miss the San Marino match but could return to face Montenegro on Tuesday.
Cahill, who has started three of England’s last four fixtures, is suffering from a minor knee injury.
Tottenham duo defender Michael Dawson and midfielder Aaron Lennon had previously withdrawn.