Fergie surprised by Ferdinand call

Sir Alex Ferguson says he was "as surprised as anyone" when Rio Ferdinand was named in the latest England squad.

Last Updated: 15/03/13 at 14:53 Post Comment

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson says he was "as surprised as anyone" when Rio Ferdinand was named in the latest England squad.

Ferdinand was selected by Roy Hodgson for this month's World Cup qualifiers with San Marino and Montenegro, the first time he has been called up by the current England boss since he took charge just before Euro 2012.

The move caught Ferguson by surprise given Ferdinand's long-standing fitness issues.

And he is not entirely convinced international duty is the best way forward for the 34-year-old.

"I was as surprised as anyone when I heard," he said.

Ferguson added: "I need to speak to the (United) doctor because we prepare Rio Ferdinand in a certain way and there are certain treatments he has to go through.

"He has to make sure he is going to be OK in terms of the number of games he plays.

"We have been doing that for two years and it has worked. We have to look at all these things before Rio decides (if he joins up)."

Ferguson added: "I need to speak to the (United) doctor because we prepare Rio Ferdinand in a certain way and there are certain treatments he has to go through.

"He has to make sure he is going to be OK in terms of the number of games he plays.

"We have been doing that for two years and it has worked.

"We have to look at all these things before Rio decides (if he joins up)."

If Ferdinand did not report it would be a minor embarrassment for Hodgson given his climbdown from previous statements that he has "moved on" from the Manchester United defender.

"The procedures have been the same all season which has given him fantastic performance levels when he's playing for us," said Ferguson.

"We have to consider that and Rio is considering that. And we'll see what the outcome of that is."

Although it does appear there has been some kind of breakdown in communication, Press Association Sport understands United were contacted by the FA ahead of Friday's squad announcement, even if Ferguson and Hodgson did not actually speak.

And given Ferdinand recently stated he would love to play for his country again, it would seem strange for the 34-year-old to now pull out on fitness grounds when the opportunity he craved for so long has been presented to him.

In addition, there is the likelihood Ferdinand will only be required for the crucial trip to Montenegro on March 26 given Group H whipping boys San Marino are the test next Friday.

Nevertheless, Ferguson is clearly concerned, which is probably understandable given his side face two games in 48 hours immediately after the international break, with their FA Cup replay with Chelsea having to be squeezed into a congested fixture calendar due to the Blues' Europa League commitments.

Ferguson also confirmed neither Nani nor Phil Jones will be available for Saturday's Barclays Premier League encounter with Reading at Old Trafford, although in the former man's case, his hamstring injury is not as bad as first feared.

"When he came off against Chelsea last week we thought it could have been another bad hamstring injury," said Ferguson.

"It is not as serious as we thought but he could be out for a couple of weeks."

Saturday's game is the third time this season United have faced opponents who have just sacked their manager.

And Ferguson finds Reading's decision to axe Brian McDermott perplexing in the extreme.

"I never understand football," said Ferguson. "If they had done it in December or January maybe I would have understood it because he could have brought players in.

"Brian McDermott has done a good job given the outlay. He spent something like £1.2million and got in £7.4million and got them promoted to the Premier League.

"He was manager of the month in January - I hope I am not manager of the month this month."


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