Former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson has branded the reaction to Roy Hodgson's omission of Rio Ferdinand from his squad for Euro 2012 a "smear campaign".
Hodgson's decision to overlook 33-year-old Ferdinand for Euro 2012, in spite of the injury sustained by Gary Cahill, sparked fury from the Manchester United defender's representative Jamie Moralee as youngster Martin Kelly was drafted in as cover.
Moralee deemed the Football Association's handling of his player as a "total lack of respect", after insistence the centre-back's absence from the squad for Poland and Ukraine was due to "football reasons".
It has been suggested, though, that Hodgson's call relates to avoiding potential disharmony in the squad, as defender John Terry is accused of racially abusing Rio Ferdinand's brother Anton - an allegation Terry denies.
Eriksson, who managed England between 2001 and 2006, sympathises with Hodgson, writing in his column for Swedish newspaper Expressen: "Choosing Kelly over Ferdinand seems to have caught him in the crossfire and, having selected six Liverpool players, Roy is the target of a smear campaign.
"Personally, I just find the whole thing to be quite silly. First of all, they're all good footballers. But secondly, Roy has rock-solid knowledge when it comes to the players' current form.
"I do understand Rio's disappointment. He was an incredibly important player for me in three tournaments, but we mustn't forget the injuries he has suffered this season.
"Roy has his reasons, otherwise he would not have rejected Rio - twice. It has been an entirely football-based decision. That's all there is to it. I know Roy will face it without losing his composure. Remember, this is England. No squad is ever selected without criticism."