John Terry's England place in doubt as Roy Hodgson set for talks with Rio Ferdinand
The new England manager Roy Hodgson hopes to speak to Rio Ferdinand within the next week to gauge the Manchester United defender's feelings about playing for England at the European Championships next month.
Hodgson said in his introduction as England manager on Tuesday that one of his priorities was to find out whether the 33-year-old would be able to play in the same side as John Terry, who is in court on 9 July on charges of racially abusing Ferdinand's younger brother Anton.
Ferdinand has not played for England since the Euro 2012 qualifier against Switzerland last June and had not been in a squad since the incident between Terry and Anton in October.
The question of whether the two centre-backs – who have nominally been first choice (when fit) for almost a decade – could co-exist in the same squad goes right to the heart of one of the biggest questions that Hodgson has to answer.
Ferdinand has made a timely return to United's first team and could play a part in the England team this summer. It cannot be ruled out that Hodgson will make a big decision before he names his squad on 14 May, possibly even leaving out Terry altogether. Those who know him well, maintain he is not afraid of making difficult choices.
Suggestions yesterday that Hodgson would bring Paul Ince, who played for him at Internazionale, into his backroom staff appear to be off the mark. The England manager is expected to appoint two coaches to his staff. There have been many names suggested in the last 24 hours including the prospect that Hodgson might approach one of the Neville brothers, Gary and Phil.
Hodgson will not attend the FA Cup final on Saturday, preferring instead to prepare his West Bromwich Albion side for the penultimate game of their season, away at Bolton Wanderers on Sunday. The Football Association yesterday described The Sun's Wednesday front page headline "Bwing on the Euwos", mocking Hodgson, as "disrespectful".
Steven Gerrard, the favourite to be Hodgson's captain, said yesterday that the new England manager "took the Liverpool job at the wrong time". "My opinion of him has not changed before he got the [Liverpool] job, while he had the job and after it.
"He was very good technically, very thorough, a great guy and very loyal among the players. I think he is a good appointment. I think all the candidates the media were saying were in the running were all good candidates.
"Like any other England manager Roy will be judged on results so we will see how it goes, but I am certainly looking forward to working with him again."