Rio fumes over Euro 2012 snub
Rio Ferdinand's agent has accused the FA of a "total lack of respect" over the centre-back's continued exile from the England squad for Euro 2012.
Manchester United defender Ferdinand was omitted from Roy Hodgson's 23-man selection last month and it was suggested this was so that John Terry – who faces trial in July for allegedly racially abusing Rio's brother Anton – could be included, although the FA insisted it was for "football reasons".
However, veteran defender Ferdinand, who has over 80 caps for England, continues to be overlooked despite a raft of injuries to Hodgson's squad.
Defender Gary Cahill was ruled out of the European Championships with a fractured jaw at the weekend and after hearing that Liverpool's Martin Kelly, who made just 10 Premier League appearances last term, would go to Poland and Ukraine as a replacement, Ferdinand tweeted: "What reasons?????!!!"
That was clearly a reference to the "football reasons" given by the FA and Jamie Moralee, who represents Rio and Anton, told the Daily Telegraph: "Lampard, Terry, Barry, Gerrard: all ageing but they [were picked to] go to the tournament. Why is Rio different? To treat a player that has captained and served his country 81 times (in this manner) is nothing short of disgraceful. Total lack of respect from Hodgson and the FA as far as I am concerned."
Former England and Manchester United striker Andy Cole also said he "wouldn't be surprised" if factors other than form were involved in Ferdinand's exclusion. "If there were footballing reasons for Rio not going I would love to know what they were," he told the Daily Mirror.
"At the end of the season Rio was fantastic. Centre halfs, especially in their thirties, are going to pick up a few niggles but I think Rio played 30-odd games and played extremely well. And then you turn around and talk about 'footballing reasons'.
"He has been the best footballing centre half for many years so I want to know what those footballing reasons were.
"He is disappointed, naturally. He was looking forward to playing again for England having only lost the captaincy last year. It is very harsh."
Ferdinand, though, later took to Twitter to say: “Just so we dont get it twisted ere....i'll be in a pub somewhere supporting England this summer! Love the lads!”
Meanwhile, England captain Steven Gerrard has admitted he is "angry" that England have lost so many key players through injury in the build-up to Euro 2012.
But Gerrard does not blame Belgium player Dries Mertens whose push on Cahill during Saturday's international at Wembley led to him colliding with Joe Hart and suffering a double fracture of the jaw.
Gerrard said: "Losing Gary is a massive blow. His performances in the last six months have been colossal for Chelsea. He was a colossus in the Champions League final win over Bayern Munich. We needed him.
"I am angry because we have lost some big players with a tournament eight or nine days away. That's the blow and that's the price you pay for these warm-up games.
"To do well in these tournaments you have to have your big players and to lose Gary is another huge blow on the back of Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry."
But, as regards the challenge by Mertens, Gerrard said: "I don't think you can blame the guy because he was itching to score a goal. Maybe he got carried away but I don't think you can put any blame on the kid."
Mertens was quick to apologise for the consequences of his actions although he is adamant there was no malice in his challenge.
PSV Eindhoven player Mertens, who was yellow carded for the challenge, said: "It was an accident. It was unintentional. He (Cahill) blocked me off and he's hit his head (on Hart's shoulder). But there was no malice in what I did.
"Absolutely, I feel for him. If that was me in his place, getting injured like that a week before the Euros, I'd feel so bad. I'd feel terrible. I'm sorry he's not able to go."