Belfast Telegraph

Roy Hodgson: I'm not interested in Rio Ferdinand or what he is doing

By Sam Wallace

Rio Ferdinand's international future was once again in doubt after the Manchester United defender opted to fly to Qatar to work as a television pundit having pulled out of tonight's World Cup qualifier against San Marino citing fitness issues.


The England manager, Roy Hodgson, whose side play the mostly amateur San Marino side, said that he would have to "wait and see" whether he picked Ferdinand again having brought him in from the cold last Thursday after 19 months out of the squad for the Manchester United defender.

Meanwhile, Ferdinand defended his decision to work as a pundit for Al Jazeera and take a 15-hour round trip to Doha having told Hodgson on Sunday night that his self-styled "intricate" fitness programme precluded him from playing in the World Cup qualifiers tomorrow night and against Montenegro on Tuesday.

Sensing that he was about to be drawn into yet another controversy over Ferdinand, Hodgson went into defensive mode claiming that he did not regret picking the player in his original 26-man squad and that Ferdinand's decision to go to Qatar was "his business".

The England manager refused to confirm or deny whether Ferdinand had mentioned his proposed pundit's role when the player travelled to London on Sunday to explain why his fitness regime prevented him from playing in the two qualifiers. It is understood that the offer from the television network might have been made after the two men met.

Speaking to television crews, Hodgson said: "I'm only interested in the players I've got here," and could not say whether Ferdinand would be selected again. "I think we should wait and see. It's more a question of whether his injury situation will impact upon him playing for England. We will have to wait and see what happens in the future."

Later, in his press briefing, Hodgson said that Ferdinand's decision to go to Doha was "not my business, quite frankly". He said: "It's not my business to interfere with an individual player and his club. I don't think this is the right moment in time for me to be discussing Rio and what's happened now and what will happen in the future.

"I want to concentrate on these two matches and the players I'm working with. They deserve my respect as well. They're here. They want to be here and to do a good job."

Earlier, Ferdinand, aware of the criticism of his trip, had tweeted from Doha that he would be getting treatment at the Aspire academy in Doha and that the trip was "no different" to what he did on any other recent international break. His final tweet was: "Haters are gonna hate... also assume everything... although it must be the gospel truth based on assumptions!"

On the conversation between the two men on Sunday, Hodgson said: "I'd prefer that conversation to stay between us. It was good we had a chance to talk face to face and for him to explain the situation, but I don't want to discuss what was and what wasn't discussed. I'd hope he'd make the same answer."

The England manager confirmed that Gary Cahill has not recovered in time to be able to rejoin the squad ahead of Tuesday's game against Montenegro. He also said that Michael Carrick is not under consideration to play as an adapted centre-back with the likely pairing tomorrow night being Chris Smalling and Joleon Lescott.

Hodsgon also waved away suggestions that Arsenal had used the international break as a rest period for Jack Wilshere who now looks likely to play against Reading next week. "I have no evidence for that," he said "He's injured and that's unfortunate. We're disappointed he isn't with us because, on merit, he'd be picked and would play. But injuries occur."

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