Ferdinand faces fight for future
Rio Ferdinand used his Twitter feed to see the lighter side of his current career difficulties when he suggested he may start training with his young son's school team "if selected".
Sir Alex Ferguson left Ferdinand on the bench for Manchester United's victory against Norwich City on Saturday after a chaotic defensive performance in the Champions League draw against Basel at Old Trafford.
And Ferdinand will be confined to club activities as England's squad takes their plane to Podgorica on Thursday morning en route to their final Euro 2012 qualifier in Montenegro.
So while Ferdinand may innocently make light of his situation, there is no doubt the problem he faces for club and country is no laughing matter.
United striker Danny Welbeck was paraded in front of the media at England's Hertfordshire headquarters on Tuesday and was glowing in his praise for club team-mate Ferdinand, despite the defender's absence from the national squad.
"We all know what capabilities he's got - he's a Rolls-Royce of a defender," Welbeck said. "It's wrong to write him off. We all know the ability he's got."
Welbeck, along with Phil Jones and the absent Tom Cleverley and Chris Smalling, are part of the new Old Trafford generation mapping out England's future up to and beyond Euro 2012.
Ferdinand's England career looks under threat with the emergence of fellow United defenders Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. Photo: Getty
Ferdinand's job now is to make sure he is part of that plan, but there is no doubt he faces a fight to ensure he is a regular for club and country this season and into next summer's showpiece, should England get the point they need in Podgorica on Friday to ensure qualification.
Capello chose to ignore Ferdinand despite the fact that he was back in United's team after injury, albeit unconvincingly against Stoke City and Basel.
And while the Italian is notoriously single-minded, some may even say random, in matters of team selection it is highly unlikely that he failed to note Ferguson's decision to relegate Ferdinand behind Evans and Jones on Saturday, even with the experience of captain Nemanja Vidic still missing.
Frank Lampard is already demonstrating the folly of writing off players who have achieved great things for their club in the past, coming back to form for Chelsea after his exclusion in Bulgaria was greeted with undisguised glee in some quarters.
So the notion of making Ferdinand this month's Lampard is a dangerous occupation. He has done too much to be written off on the basis of this non-selection.
Ferdinand, a hugely popular figure within Capello's squad, has suffered a torrid 18 months with England. He almost set the tone for the calamity in South Africa when he sustained a serious knee injury on the first day of training in Rustenburg, then saw the captaincy handed back to John Terry by Capello in ham-fisted fashion in March.
It appeared Ferdinand's relationship with Capello had dipped after they missed each other and failed to discuss the issue at Old Trafford, but those fences have since been mended.
Now, with his fitness restored, come doubts about his form. Ferdinand looked hesitant and ponderous against Basel - although this could also be attributed to ring rustiness after his previous absence.
A proud wearer of the England shirt, he is as likely as Lampard to go quietly, but as he watches Capello's side in action in Podgorica's City Stadium on Friday, he will be grimly aware he is battling for his international future.
Barring accidents, Terry will lead England if they reach Poland and Ukraine and Jones may yet emerge as the figure Ferdinand will have to get past to prolong his career for club and country.
Gary Cahill is the current central defensive incumbent alongside Terry and likely to start in Montenegro after a steady defensive performance - and a goal - in the 3-0 win in Sofia as well as playing his part in the narrow victory against Wales.
Cahill, however, has been part of a Bolton defence shipping goals at a confidence-sapping rate this season and is another under threat from the emergence of the raw but lavishly-talented Jones.
Jones is the man Ferguson has bought for Manchester United's future. And with a season of development at Old Trafford to come there is a growing sense that he will be ready to take his place for England by the time Euro 2012 starts, if they can confirm their place.
Everton's Phil Jagielka is another player Capello admires, but Jones was used in training sessions alongside Terry in Sofia before he opted for Cahill and the England captain was effusive in his admiration for the 19-year-old's ability and attitude.
Already there is talk that Jones is naturally built to take the England captain's armband further down the line.
United's 3-3 draw against Basel was a chastening experience for Jones as well as Ferdinand, confirmation that he can still be manoeuvred out of position at the highest level and may also need to row back slightly on a wonderful sense of adventure that can occasionally take him into uncharted territory.
Jones may yet feature at right-back in Podgorica with Chris Smalling out, although Capello has options in Kyle Walker and Micah Richards, but the powerful youngster's all-round versatility and obvious leadership qualities only add to his attraction as a player.
So the focus of rejection has switched from Lampard to Ferdinand - and while he may Tweet light-heartedly about his plight he will not move quietly into the shadows if England confirm their place at Euro 2012 on Friday.