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European Qualifiers Group E

Rio's return not ruled out

England manager Roy Hodgson says he would want further discussions about Rio Ferdinand's fitness before considering whether to give the defender another international chance.

Last Updated: 28/03/13 at 08:16 Post Comment

Roy Hodgson: England boss has not ruled out giving Rio Ferdinand another chance

Roy Hodgson: England boss has not ruled out giving Rio Ferdinand another chance

Hodgson picked Ferdinand in his initial squad for the World Cup double-header against San Marino and Montenegro, only for the defender to withdraw, citing an "intricate" and "pre-planned" training programme.

The 34-year-old then travelled to Qatar to commentate on England's hammering of San Marino, a move which was widely seen as an own goal by the Manchester United defender.

Hodgson said: "If he is going to play in the future there will have to be further discussions, not least about his fitness programme and his club.

"But I have absolutely nothing to add to what I said when his name came up before and I have no interest in discussing someone who isn't here."

The England manager was however happy to discuss the form of Ferdinand's replacements, Joleon Lescott and Chris Smalling, who played in the 1-1 draw with Montenegro.

"The two centre-backs did very well," Hodgson added.

"Smalling was excellent and Joleon Lescott did a very good job as well.

"I would have thought if there are two players who deserve to come out of this game with credit rather than any negativity it is the two centre-backs.

"Certainly it would be extremely unfair to suggest it was the performance of Smalling and Lescott which culminated in us drawing the game rather than winning it."

Important

Hodgson knows four weeks in the autumn will determine England's hopes of going to Brazil.

Tuesday's draw in Montenegro means the Three Lions have some work to do if they are to secure a place at Brazil 2014 with home games against Moldova, Montenegro and Poland to come, plus a trip to Ukraine in September.

However, nothing can be taken for granted, with England needing to make Wembley a fortress if they are to achieve their objectives.

"We have an important four or five weeks from the middle of September to the middle of October, with three matches at home and one difficult one away," said Hodgson.

"By not losing this week, we have given ourselves a chance.

"But it is not quite as simple as us against them. Montenegro have to play Poland and Ukraine and they have to play against each other."

The last England manager who failed to qualify for a major tournament, Steve McClaren, was sacked within 24 hours.

And though Bobby Robson is an obvious example of someone who missed out - at Euro 84 - yet remained in his job and went on to enjoy considerable success, it is widely assumed the minimum requirement for Hodgson, whose contract runs to 2016, is to reach Brazil.

"It is not for me to say (what the minimum requirement is)," said Hodgson.

"I care as much about qualifying as anyone else and will try to do the best job I can.

"But I do know my expectations are not going to vary from anybody else's. They are always very high.

"We, as footballers, coaches and fans, want England to qualify for the major tournaments. As yet, we have not failed to do so.

"Maybe that question will become a bit more relevant if the day ever comes when we do fail. Until such time as we do fail I prefer to look forward positively and keep working towards our goal."

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