Montenegro v England

Campbell defends Rio withdrawal

March 26, 2013
By ESPN staff

Former Arsenal defender Sol Campbell has defended Rio Ferdinand's decision to withdraw from the England squad, insisting the 34-year-old will bounce back to revive his international career.

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Ferdinand withdrew from Roy Hodgson's squad for last week's match against San Marino and Tuesday's trip to Montenegro, citing his pre-planned fitness routine as a reason not to travel with England.

But the Manchester United defender came under intense criticism after turning his back on his first selection for the national team in nearly two years and travelling to Qatar for media commitments did little to help his cause.

But Campbell launched a defence of his former England team-mate, claiming injury management is a major issue for a player of Ferdinand's age.

"I know what Rio is going through because international football does take a lot out of you," Campbell said. "If you have a regime, a way of playing and a routine then playing for your country requires a lot more effort.

"If you are in a routine and happy with that and then you are looking to play another game it can be demanding on the body. Playing for England can put a lot of demands on your body. And then you have to get back and play for your club.

"If you haven't put that into your routine and no-one has told you that they are thinking about putting you in a month ago then it's hard to put it in."

Campbell believes Ferdinand still has a chance of vying for selection in England's next international as well as next year's World Cup squad.

"He (Rio) said he would love to be involved in the next one," Campbell said. "It's just a crucial moment for England and Manchester United so it's a difficult for him to decide. It's physical. International football and the travelling is demanding.

"People need to talk and work it out. I think it was just a shock to Rio because he was thinking, 'Well, I haven't got a chance and then all of a sudden with a few injuries he had a chance.' It was surprising."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.