Hodgson: Rio still has England future

Salisbury Journal: Rio Ferdinand could play for England against Ireland and Brazil in May and June respectively Rio Ferdinand could play for England against Ireland and Brazil in May and June respectively

Roy Hodgson has made it clear Rio Ferdinand still has an England future despite the Manchester United defender pulling out of the World Cup qualifiers with San Marino and Montenegro.

Ferdinand travelled to London on Sunday night to explain personally to Hodgson why it was impossible for him to accept a return to the Three Lions fold at this time. As Sir Alex Ferguson explained on Friday, there were huge concerns at Old Trafford over the disruption to a long-standing schedule United's medical staff have put in place for Ferdinand.

Hodgson said: "I'm disappointed Rio will not be available, but due to the detailed pre-planned training and medical programme he must follow it's not possible. 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 said he was "gutted" at having to withdraw, but insisted it was the "right decision".

Whilst friendlies against the Republic of Ireland on May 29 and Brazil in Rio de Janeiro on June 2 do not look like the obvious games in which Ferdinand should extend his 81-cap career, the fact he can do so in a less pressurised environment, and after the domestic season has finished, make it more likely.

That would ease Ferdinand back into the fray in time for the crucial World Cup qualifiers in the autumn that will determine whether England make it to Brazil or not.

In addition, Ferdinand's contract situation will also have been resolved as the prospect of ignoring United's medical strategy, and then getting injured on international duty, could have wrecked any hope he had of remaining at Old Trafford.

Ferdinand will now watch on TV, hoping he too will make it to Brazil 2014.

"I'm gutted I had to pull out of England squad," Ferdinand wrote on Twitter. "But it was the right decision for my intricate pre-planned programme.

"It was important for me to be able to speak with Roy face to face and explain the situation. One thing I made clear was that my passion and commitment to represent my country is as strong as ever."

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