Ferdinand pulls out of England squad
Rio Ferdinand has been forced to withdraw from the England squad "due to the detailed pre-planned training and medical programme he must follow", manager Roy Hodgson has said.
Ferdinand, who has not played for his country since June 2011, was handed a surprise call-up to Hodgson's squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro.
There had been some doubt as to whether he would accept the call, with Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson saying he would "need to speak to our doctor" to ascertain whether it would be possible for the 34-year-old to resume his international career. On Saturday, he had announced that Ferdinand would join up with the squad.
However, after Ferdinand held talks with Hodgson on Sunday, the defender has withdrawn from the squad, although the England manager has stressed that it is not necessarily the end of the player's international career.
"I'm disappointed Rio will not be available, but due to the detailed pre-planned training and medical programme he must follow it's not possible," he said. "I was pleased that Rio called and asked to meet with me. 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 remains upbeat about his chances of playing for England again.
"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 said. "It is disappointing that I won't be able to play a part in the upcoming games but I told Roy that I want to continue to be available for England and I look forward to working with him in the future."
The defender subsequently said via his Twitter account that he was "gutted" to have to withdraw from the double-header and reiterated his need to adhere to his strict training schedule.
I'm Gutted I had to pull out of england squad, but it was the right decision for my intricate pre-planned programme.— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) March 18, 2013
Ferdinand later responded to comments from a number of former England internationals who questioned his commitment to the national team.
In his column for Sun Sport, former Arsenal striker Ian Wright labelled Ferdinand's omission as a mere "excuse", insisting "Hodgson should have been aware about this programme before he called up the player". But Ferdinand insists football professionals should be more understanding of the physical demands he is under.
I thought these ex sportsman who have experience with injuries + maintenance would know better than to chat rubbish like they are doing...— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) March 18, 2013
He has been replaced in the squad by Tottenham Hotspur defender Steven Caulker, who had initially been called up for the Under-21 side.
Information from the Press Association was used in this report