Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand defends Qatar trip

Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand has defended his decision to fly to Qatar to work as a television pundit for England's game against San Marino.

The 34-year-old defender has been plagued by injuries over the past few years and withdrew from England's squad for their two World Cup qualifiers.

He said a "pre-planned programme" was his reason for pulling out.

"No different from what I did in the last 10 day international break...thank you guys," Ferdinand wrote on Twitter.

Ferdinand, who has 81 caps, has attracted criticism for his decision to fly to Doha to be part of Al Jazeera's broadcast of the game.

"Haters are gonna hate...also assume everything...although it must be the gospel truth based on assumptions," Ferdinand added.

"I've flown out for some pre-planned downtime...with a bit of punditry thrown in for a game I would have watched anyway."

Ferdinand last played for England in June 2011, with England manager Roy Hodgson continually stating he was leaving Ferdinand out for "footballing reasons".

But he was given a route back into the set up by Hodgson last week