Hodgson will 'wait and see' on Ferdinand
SERRAVALLE, San Marino (AFP) –
England manager Roy Hodgson says he will “wait and see” on Rio Ferdinand’s international future after the Manchester United defender’s withdrawal from the squad.
Hodgson called Ferdinand up for the first time in his tenure as national manager for Friday’s World Cup qualifier against San Marino and Tuesday’s trip to Montenegro, only for the 34-year-old to rule himself out, citing fitness concerns.
Ferdinand subsequently had to defend his decision after it emerged he will be working as a television pundit on the game in Qatar.
“Flown out for some pre-planned downtime… With a bit of punditry thrown in for a game I would have watched anyway,” Ferdinand wrote on his Twitter account on Thursday.
“No different from what I did on the last 10-day international break.”
Asked to comment on Ferdinand’s commitments, Hodgson said: “I don’t have any serious thoughts on it. I was disappointed when he couldn’t accept our invitation.
“It would’ve been nice to have him here, but as we all know, he wasn’t able to accept the invitation.
“But what he has done now and how he operates in the next couple of weeks is his business and the club’s business. I’m very happy with the squad of players I have here and that’s where I have my focus.”
Hodgson also said it was too early to say whether or not Ferdinand’s tally of England caps will remain stuck on 81.
“I think we should just wait and see,” Hodgson said.
“It’s more a question of how his injury situation will impact on him playing for England, so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Ferdinand’s decision to pull out, coupled with injuries to Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill and Michael Dawson, leaves Hodgson largely bereft of players with international experience in central defence.
The withdrawals mean the manager now has four relatively inexperienced centre-backs at his disposal, in the shape of Joleon Lescott, Chris Smalling, Steven Caulker and the uncapped Steven Taylor.
However, Hodgson rejected suggestions he might be tempted to withdraw Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick into central defence against minnows San Marino in Serravalle.
“To accept that suggestion, I have to accept we have problems in central defence,” the England manager said.
“But I think we’ve got four very good defenders here. As far as I’m concerned, I’d be loath to start using people like Michael Carrick, who’s been selected for his prowess as a central midfielder.
“I think that would be enormously harsh on the centre-backs we have here, all of whom are vying for a place in the team and are dying to play.”
San Marino are jointly ranked the worst team in the FIFA rankings, sharing 207th place with Bhutan and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
They have not even mustered a goal in a competitive fixture since October 2008, but Steven Gerrard says England cannot assume that victory is a done deal.
“In an ideal situation, we win the game comfortably and put on a show for everyone watching back home and the 3,000 fans who’ve come out here to watch us,” said the England captain.
“But three points are the important thing. We’ll get the same here that we’re hopefully going to get on Tuesday night, so they’re both big games.”