Netherland news

VdV surprise at Rio omission

Midfielder praises "one of the best defenders in the world"

ESPN staff

Rio Ferdinand has never played a European Championship for England© Getty Images

Tottenham midfielder Rafael van der Vaart has labelled Roy Hodgson's decision not to take Rio Ferdinand to the European Championship as "strange".

Van der Vaart, 29, who will represent Netherlands at the tournament, expressed his surprise at the decision to leave behind "one of the best defenders in the world."

However, he believes that despite Ferdinand's omission, England will be a threat at Euro 2012 this summer.

The Dutch midfielder told the BBC: "It surprised me because I think he's still one of the best defenders in England, and maybe in the world. Of course, he's a little bit older now, but he's still fit and fresh and he played for Manchester United.''

Van der Vaart added: "They still have a great team. It's a pity for them that Lampard is injured, but they have so many good players. They have a new manager, so maybe they'll play a little bit different now. England are always a danger to play against."

Netherlands defender Johnny Heitinga agreed with his colleague: "Yes, I'm quite surprised. But then, on the other hand, Phil Jagielka, my partner in the defence for Everton, is doing very well.

"There are no more centre-halves in the England squad but it's up to those who are there to perform. I was quite surprised in the beginning that they're going this way and hopefully they're going to play a good tournament. Lescott is there as well so they've still got a few good centre-halves."

Asked about England's injury woes, Heitinga told the Sun: "Now it's up to team spirit because the main players are not in the squad, hopefully other players can stand up. To win the prize, the team spirit needs to be there - you can only succeed if you work hard and are there for each other.''

Whilst there was support for Ferdinand in the Dutch ranks, departing Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt was quick to suggest that colleagues Martin Kelly and Jordan Henderson will impress in the coming weeks.

"Roy Hodgson is the one who decides who he selects for the national team,'' Kuyt said.

"There's only one decision to make - he has to make the best possible team. I'm sure Martin Kelly and Henderson will do well. They are young but they're both very talented and I'm sure they will help England moving forward.''


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