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Rio might be wise to end England career

TEAMtalk guest Matt Mulready assesses Rio Ferdinand's England snub - and feels staying in the international wilderness might be best for him.

Last Updated: 22/03/13 at 14:15 Post Comment

Rio Ferdinand: Might be best to stay out of international arena

Rio Ferdinand: Might be best to stay out of international arena

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I would love to know what is going on in Rio Ferdinand's mind right now.

Today, while his England team-mates are playing against San Marino, a squad he was called up for, Ferdinand finds himself in Qatar, talking about the game on the Al Jazeera network.

A couple of years ago, due to his inconsistent form, it wouldn't have been a stretch to conceive Ferdinand entering retirement and pursuing a career in the media. However, such is his current form - guiding Manchester United to the verge of a record 20th and his sixth individual Premier League title - the defender is currently sat on the periphery of ending his international hiatus. Roy Hodgson had no choice but to give Ferdinand, the man he dropped prior to Euro 2012 in favour of John Terry for "football reasons", a reprieve.

The head coach described Ferdinand as the "the right man to do the job for England" and as such he invited the defender to be part of his England squad for the games against San Marino and Montenegro.

The stage was set for England to welcome Ferdinand back - but hopes were dashed, despite guarantees from Rio's club manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, that Ferdinand would "join up" with the Three Lions set-up.

Ferdinand's refusal to play, due to a 'unique personal program' that protects his injury-prone back, has given Hodgson his own back (line) nightmare. John Terry has now retired, Gary Cahill is injured and the remaining options aren't seen as international quality.

It now looks like the power has shifted, with Ferdinand seemingly calling the shots. Hodgson's Euro snub and now this latest episode illustrates that the player and manager aren't afraid to air their 'football laundry' in public.

Ferdinand's justification for withdrawing seems even more bizarre given that he has made the 15-hour round trip to Qatar to be a pundit. This is further reinforced by the fact that only months previously, he was almost pleading for Hodgson to end his 21-month international exile. 

Ferdinand, almost in desperation, said: "If I get picked I'd pack my bags and go straight there". Hodgson took his time but delivered on his part, only for Ferdinand to snub him, making it 1-1 between manager and player.

So was Hodgson too late or was Ferdinand exacting revenge?

Both parties have been quick to dismiss this as a disagreement. Ferdinand has ironically kept the door ajar for future call-ups, and Hodgson has praised Ferdinand's honesty and reinforced the player's desire to win more caps.

But staying in the international wilderness could possibly be the best decision.

Ferdinand has to look no further than team-mates Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs to see how international retirement can prolong careers.

Scholes and Giggs are 37 and 39 years old respectively, and find themselves defying logic by still competing at the highest level.

Ferdinand could and probably should follow their lead, safe in the knowledge he was wanted by the national set-up.

It will be interesting to see what unfolds in the forthcoming weeks and months. It's hard to call what happens next.

Nobody but Ferdinand knows of his true international desires. If he does decide to place 'club before country', he won't be the first, and certainly won't be the last.

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