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Mar 28, 2013

Hodgson and Ferguson to hold Rio talks

Roy Hodgson will hold talks with Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson before deciding whether to offer Rio Ferdinand a way back into the England picture.

Hodgson selected Ferdinand for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro, but the defender withdrew from the squad, citing the need to stick to an in-depth medical programme designed to ensure that he remains fit.

Ferdinand then caused controversy by flying to Doha to be a television pundit for Friday's 8-0 win over San Marino, but denied putting media work ahead of international commitments.

Hodgson has confirmed that he will speak to Ferguson to establish the extent of Ferdinand's fitness issues.

The England manager, though, was pleased with the performances of Chris Smalling and Joleon Lescott, who took on the central defensive roles in Ferdinand's absence.

"They did very well," he told the Daily Express. "Smalling was excellent and Joleon Lescott did a very, very good job as well, so I would have thought if there were two players who deserve to come out of this game with credit it's the two centre-backs.

"So there's no interest for me in discussing someone who is not here. If he [Ferdinand] is going to play in future games, there will have to be further discussions, not least of all in relation to his fitness programme and his club."

Former Manchester United midfielder Nicky Butt questioned Hodgson's treatment of Ferdinand.

He believes Hodgson was wrong to leave Ferdinand out of England's Euro 2012 squad, and feels that there are issues between player and national team that still need to be resolved.

"Rio is a massive player," he told talkSport. "I think he has been missed ever since he was left out of the squad. It baffles me that he has not been in the squad for the previous 10, 11 games.

"It's left a sour taste in everyone's mouth that he is not there. There are reasons for that.

"There a lot of things that go on in club football that people don't know about. There's a lot of hard work that goes into keeping players of that age fit and playing week in, week out.

"It's easy to say he's let his country down or he doesn't want to play for England. But, believe me, that is not the case with Rio.

"He manages his body the way he does in order to play games for Manchester United. If hadn't done that, then he wouldn't have got the recall anyway."

Butt said "lessons need to be learned on how to communicate with players of that age and that experience and get them into the squad" and said the situation "could have been easily avoided".

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