Rio Ferdinand withdraws from England squad for qualifiers

Frank Lampard believes Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand could still have an international future with England.

Ferdinand, 34, withdrew from the England squad for World Cup qualifiers with San Marino and Montenegro after meeting boss Roy Hodgson, but wants to continue playing for his country.

"He's a top drawer player. He is not finished," Lampard said.

"He is a top performer and at the minute is one of the best defenders in the Premier League."

Ferdinand was replaced in the squad by Steven Caulker, 21, while Joleon Lescott and the uncapped Steven Taylor have also been called up to replace the injured Michael Dawson and Gary Cahill.

It leaves England short on experience in central defence, but Chelsea midfielder Lampard, 34, is sure they can overcome the disruption.

They play San Marino on Friday before travelling to Montenegro on Tuesday for a game which could determine who wins Group H.

"I believe in the squad and the players we've got here," he said. "Maybe we haven't got the experience of before but they're quality players and we've been in this situation before, whether it's been with midfielders or strikers, and come through the other side and sometimes things like this can make the squad focus even more."

Ferdinand's last England appearance was in the 2-2 draw against Switzerland in June 2011 but he won a recall for the matches against San Marino and Montenegro.

The defender, who made his debut against Cameroon in 1997, still hopes to add to his 81 caps and said on Twitter he was "gutted" about his withdrawal, which followed a meeting with Hodgson in London, but said it was necessary as part of his "intricate pre-planned programme".

In a statement he added: "It was important for me to be able to speak with Roy face to face and explain the situation, and one thing I made clear was that my passion and commitment to represent my country is as strong as ever."

He later returned to Twitter to criticise former players for suggesting his pulling out of the England squad could mean the end of his international career.

He tweeted: "I thought these ex-sportsman who have experience with injuries and maintenance would know better than to chat rubbish like they are doing."

And Hodgson said, despite Ferdinand's withdrawal and concerns over his fitness, he would still be considered for future internationals.

"I was pleased that Rio called and asked to meet with me," Hodgson said. "It was important to hear from him personally about the way he must manage his body between games.

"This is not to say he cannot play back-to-back games - he can and has proven so. He's out this time due to particular pre-planned details already in place for his programme.

"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's England career appeared to be over after he was left out of the squad for Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.

That came against a backdrop of suggestions there could be a potential conflict with John Terry, who was due to stand trial over a charge of racially abusing Ferdinand's brother Anton.

Media playback is not supported on this device

Rio Ferdinand scores for England at 2002 World Cup

Terry was cleared of the charge after the tournament. However, he was later banned and fined by the FA over the incident - but not before announcing his retirement from international football.

Hodgson stated he was leaving Ferdinand out of Euro 2012 for "footballing reasons" and was reported to have told London Underground travellers Ferdinand's England career was over in October 2012. The England manager later denied making the comment.

Ferdinand's latest recall surprised his club manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who admitted he was "shocked" at the news. Ferguson also urged the England medical staff to adhere to their advice about keeping him fit and raised doubts he would be able play in the fixtures.

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has withdrawn from England's squad for their World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro.

The decision was taken following a meeting on Sunday with Ferdinand, 34, and England boss Roy Hodgson.

At the meeting, Ferdinand confirmed he wants to continue playing for England.

"I'm disappointed Rio will not be available, but due to the detailed medical programme he must follow it's not possible," said Hodgson.

Ferdinand later said on Twitter he was "gutted" but said it was necessary as part of his "intricate pre-planned programme".

In a statement he added: "It was important for me to be able to speak with Roy face to face and explain the situation, and one thing I made clear was that my passion and commitment to represent my country is as strong as ever."

He later returned to Twitter to criticise former players for suggesting his pulling out of the England squad could mean the end of his international career.

He tweeted: "I thought these ex-sportsman who have experience with injuries and maintenance would know better than to chat rubbish like they are doing."

Tottenham's Steven Caulker, who was originally named in Stuart Pearce's Under-21 squad, will now join the seniors.

Ferdinand's last England appearance was in the 2-2 draw against Switzerland in June 2011 but he won a recall for the matches against San Marino and Montenegro.

The defender, who made his debut against Cameroon in 1997, hoped to add to his 81 caps but his withdrawal leaves England short on options at centre-back, with Caulker joining Chris Smalling and Joleon Lescott in the squad.

England play San Marino on Friday, 22 March, before travelling to Montenegro on Tuesday, 26 March for a game which could determine who wins Group H.

And Hodgson said despite Ferdinand's withdrawal and concerns over his fitness he would still be considered for future internationals.

"I was pleased that Rio called and asked to meet with me," Hodgson added. "It was important to hear from him personally about the way he must manage his body between games.

"This is not to say he cannot play back-to-back games - he can and has proven so. He's out this time due to particular pre-planned details already in place for his programme.

"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's England career appeared to be over after he was left out of the squad for Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.

That came against a backdrop of suggestions there could be a potential conflict with John Terry, who was due to stand trial over a charge of racially abusing Ferdinand's brother Anton.

Media playback is not supported on this device

Rio Ferdinand scores for England at 2002 World Cup

Terry was cleared of the charge after the tournament. However, he was later banned and fined by the FA over the incident - but not before announcing his retirement from international football.

Hodgson stated he was leaving Ferdinand out of Euro 2012 for "footballing reasons" and was reported to have told London Underground travellers Ferdinand's England career was over in October 2012. The England manager later denied making the comment.

Ferdinand's latest recall surprised his club manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who admitted he was "shocked" at the news. Ferguson also urged the England medical staff to adhere to their advice about keeping him fit and raised doubts he would be able play in the fixtures.

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