Sympathy is a thing of past for Ferdinand

Frank Dalleres
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WE MAY never know precisely what Rio Ferdinand’s fitness regime entails, and why it has precluded him from accepting an England recall that he had previously given the impression he coveted.

It may be that his participation in the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro would have risked aggravating a back problem and jeopardised his availability for Manchester United’s run-in.

Fair enough, some might say. He does not owe England anything and even less so Hodgson, who controversially overlooked his claims for last year’s European Championship, they might add.

Ferdinand is paid handsomely by United and surely wants to continue playing an integral role in delivering a possible Premier League and FA Cup double. Besides, he is playing for a new contract at Old Trafford.

But this decision means he can no longer expect great sympathy for England omissions, should Hodgson decide he is dispensable when future squads are selected.

The defender made plain his anguish at missing Euro 2012 for what Hodgson termed “footballing reasons”, amid accusations he chose John Terry at Ferdinand’s expense.

Now that Hodgson, after months of criticism, has climbed down and offered him a recall, Ferdinand has decided that what he calls his “intricate pre-planned programme” renders it impossible.

If nothing else, it seems unlikely to enhance the England manager’s faith that Ferdinand, who will be 35 by next summer, will be able to cope with the rigours of the 2014 World Cup itself.