England news

Neville: Ferdinand will struggle for Rio

October 2, 2012
By Kevin Palmer

England coach Gary Neville believes his former Manchester United team-mate Rio Ferdinand will struggle to force his way back into Roy Hodgson's squad for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, unless he can prove his fitness over an extended period of time.

Rio Ferdinand
PA PhotosRio Ferdinand: Experience in the heart of United's defence

John Terry's sudden retirement from international football last month sparked speculation that Ferdinand will be invited back into Roy Hodgson's England squad after his high profile omission from Euro 2012, yet Neville believes the 33-year-old centre-back may not be set for a quick return to the international fold.

"Rio has not been playing regularly for England for the past two years and even though he is a class defender, Roy Hodgson has said many times that he won't pick 34 or 35 year olds with 70 or 80 caps just so they can sit in the stands," Neville told Sky Sports. "That would be divisive in the squad, divisive in the dressing room.

"He hasn't played regularly for the past 20 months, it's not just a Roy Hodgson thing. Roy has never said that Rio will no longer play for England. Rio Ferdinand has never said he won't play for England again, but if he gets picked then it will be with him having to be one of the first names on the team sheet.

"How many games has Rio Ferdinand played for Fabio Capello in the last 18 months? He hasn't played regularly for England for some time and as Roy is looking to 2014 World Cup, I don't see a big issue with this."

Ferdinand's club manager Sir Alex Ferguson has advised injury-prone Ferdinand against a belated international revival, even though he believes his central defensive talisman still has what it takes to make an impression in England colours.

"Rio could do the job for England, no doubt about that, but I don't see why he should," stated Ferguson. "He should concentrate on his career with United, that's what I'd prefer."