Rio Ferdinand has England future - Roy Hodgson

Roy Hodgson has told Rio Ferdinand that his international career is not over.

Defender Ferdinand, 33, was overlooked for Euro 2012 by Hodgson, who called up Martin Kelly instead, and he told the Sun:  "You would have to say it might be over with England for me."

But, in an exclusive interview with BBC Sport, England manager Hodgson said: "Ferdinand has no reason to fear for his international future.

"All the time he's playing, I'll keep watching."

Ferdinand has 81 caps and his omission from the tournament has caused controversy.

When Gary Cahill withdrew from the squad. there were calls for Ferdinand to be called up as a replacement, but Hodgson instead chose Liverpool defender Kelly.

Jamie Moralee, Ferdinand's representative, accused Hodgson of showing the player "a lack of respect" by leaving him out of the squad.

But Hodgson said: "My respect for him should go a lot further than just asking him to come along to a tournament to be a player to cover.

Rio Ferdinand career

  • West Ham (1995-2000) 127 league apps, 2 goals
  • Bournemouth (1996-97 loan) 10 league apps
  • Leeds (2000-02) 54 league apps, 2 goals
  • Man Utd (2002-) 270 league apps, 6 goals
  • England (1997-2011) 81 caps, 3 goals

"The only disappointing factor for us who are working here is that it has taken the focus away from the fact that we are playing a very big match on Monday against France.

"I seriously believe there are a lot of people in England who are more interested in watching England play than taking part in a debate over which players should have been chosen or not."

Earlier, Ferdinand said he would never retire from international football.

But he added: "If I'm not getting picked now, especially when people are out injured, then it's unlikely I will be picked again."

Meanwhile, England captain Steven Gerrard said that Liverpool team-mate Kelly, 22, deserved to be with England at Euro 2012.

The right-back has just two minutes of senior international experience.

"Martin hasn't come in as a replacement for Rio Ferdinand, he's come in as a back-up right-back for Glen Johnson," Gerrard told BBC Sport.

"Martin's a good player and he deserves to be here."