Ferdinand ready to oust Brown for Macedonia qualifier

September 6, 2006

Rio Ferdinand insists there can be no room for sentiment as he prepares to oust his friend Wes Brown from the England defence.

Ferdinand, 27, is set to return from the toe injury which ruled him out of Saturday's 5-0 win over Andorra.

His Manchester United team-mate Brown is expected to be the man to make way in today's Euro 2008 qualifier in Macedonia.

Ferdinand said: 'You just have to be selfish in that way.

'You want to play for your country and you want to be in the team.

'The manager picks the team and if I'm in the team, brilliant. All I care about is playing.

'If you play it's always going to be at the expense of somebody else, whether that's your mate or not.'

Brown's international career has been limited by injuries but he is back in the squad under Steve McClaren and won his 10th cap against Andorra.

Ferdinand said: 'Wes is someone who I play with all the time. He's a talented player who hasn't had many opportunities at international level but when he has done, he has never disappointed.

'He did well again on Saturday.'

Ferdinand missed England's 2-1 win in Macedonia three years ago.

He was suffering from a kidney problem and, a month later, was banned after failing to take a drug test.

The United defender was also missing through injury when Macedonia drew 2-2 with England in Southampton in 2002, but he expects a hard game in the Gradski Stadium.

Ferdinand said: 'I've seen a few of their games in recent seasons and they are a nation that is coming on in leaps and bounds.

'They have got a few more players playing in big teams across Europe now, one at Lazio.

'They are team that is growing in expectation and confidence.

'This will probably be one of the toughest games that we'll have in our group.'

The Gradski Stadium holds just 18,000 but the home crowd can be hostile.

England's black players were the targets of racial abuse on their last visit and a St George flag was burned on the terraces.

Ferdinand said: 'Games like this are something that the lads thrive on.

'Personally, I love playing away from home as much as at home.

'The fans and the opposition want to do well against you and it's a motivation to for us to show them that we can play and to get a good result.'