Hodgson apologises for loose talk
Soccer:Roy Hodgson has apologised to Rio Ferdinand for the manner in which the omission of the Manchester United defender from the England squad was made public. Ferdinand learned he was not going to be selected this morning after Hodgson told a fellow passenger on the Tube.
While heading to Arsenal’s Champions League encounter with Olympiacos at the Emirates Stadium last night, Hodgson told a passenger the 33-year-old Ferdinand was not going to be selected for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland and also indicated his international career was over despite John Terry’s retirement from England duty.
Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross, whose only previous call-up came under Fabio Capello in 2010, was preferred to Ferdinand when the squad was named this morning.
Hodgson acknowledged he had made a mistake imparting such information to a random member of the public. And while he was unable to make contact with Ferdinand when he called this morning, the England coach intends to make amends, even if the brutal reality is the defender’s 81-cap England career is almost certainly over.
“I have tried to get in touch with Rio today,” said Hodgson. “I am disappointed that a stray conversation has been reported in that way. I didn’t say Rio’s career was over. I might have admitted, foolishly I guess, and I only have myself to blame, that I wasn’t going to choose him in this squad.
“I am just disappointed this could be seen as a lack of respect to Rio which is something I would shy away from. I have the utmost respect for him, as a person and a player. It is not for me to call time on anyone’s career. I would never dream of calling time on anyone’s career.
“It is up to an individual player to decide if he doesn’t want to play anymore and when I speak to Rio I will make that very clear to him. But the bottom line is I am sticking to my guns. I am staying with the players I selected for the Euros and I am looking to the future.”
There is a certain naivety about Hodgson that means it is certainly plausible that he could get into a public chat and give away such information, but it is a lesson the 65-year-old will learn from very quickly.
“All I remember was that I was talking to quite a lot of people on the Tube and one guy said ‘is Rio in the next squad?’,” he said. “I think I might have said ‘I don’t think so’ and that is about as far as I went. But I shouldn’t say that of course. It’s a mistake and I need to apologise for it.
“This is one of the hazards I suppose of travelling on Tube trains when you go up to London and then speaking to people who ask me questions rather than sitting there tight-lipped refusing to ever open my mouth. I’ve paid for it and I will learn in future.
“Maybe this will be a lesson for all the people who see me on the Tube in future: please don’t be too offended if I refuse to answer any questions you ask me.”
The question of Ferdinand’s selection had been raised again due to Terry declaring his position within England ranks had been made ‘untenable’ due to the FA pursuing him over the comments he made at Loftus Road in October last year towards the Manchester United man’s brother Anton.
Terry was given a four-match ban and a €274,000 (£220,000) fine by the FA for using racist language.
Hodgson has been left mildly embarrassed by Terry’s stance given he stood by the Chelsea captain and kept selecting him despite the negative headlines that continued to attach themselves to the 31-year-old.
The England boss had even gone so far as to say he would choose Terry even if the FA verdict went against him, as it subsequently did. Now the matter has been taken out of his hands. And it appears there will be no attempt at reconciliation.
“It’s a hypothetical question,” said Hodgson, when asked if he would consider Terry in the event he changed his mind. How can you pick someone in the squad if they have retired from international football? He has retired. Would I pick Bobby Charlton if he hadn’t stopped playing for England?
“What I’ve said about John Terry, I stand by every word. I regret his decision but I respect it. I accept it and I move forward. I look at the other options available to me and keep my eyes firmly fixed on qualification for Brazil in two years’ time.”
Hodgson today named Shawcross, Kieran Gibbs and Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster in his squad.
Tottenham’s Steven Caulker seemed like the obvious choice for centre back in the absence of Terry and Ferdinand but he was named in Stuart Pearce’s Under-21 squad yesterday, so Stoke’s Shawcross has been picked for only the second time, having failed to win a cap when he was chosen for the friendly against Egypt by Fabio Capello in March, 2010.
Arsenal’s Gibbs, who has two caps from friendly encounters against Hungary and France, has replaced Ryan Bertrand in the squad and has been rewarded for his excellent performances for Arsenal this season. Like Caulker, Jack Butland has been released to the Under-21s for their European Championship play-off with Serbia, leading to Celtic’s Forster becoming a rare England selection from the Scottish Premier League.
In addition, Tottenham’s Aaron Lennon has been called up despite having not played for England since the 2010 World Cup.
England squad:Hart (Manchester City), Ruddy (Norwich), Forster (Celtic); Baines (Everton), Cahill (Chelsea), Cole (Chelsea), Gibbs (Arsenal), Jagielka (Everton), G Johnson (Liverpool), Lescott (Manchester City), Shawcross (Stoke), Walker (Tottenham); Carrick (Manchester United), Cleverley (Manchester United), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Gerrard (Liverpool), A Johnson (Sunderland), Lennon (Tottenham), Lampard (Chelsea), Milner (Manchester City), Walcott (Arsenal); Carroll (West Ham, on loan from Liverpool), Defoe (Tottenham), Rooney (Manchester United), Welbeck (Manchester United).