Hodgson says priority is to resolve saga of Terry and Rio

 

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The Independent Online

Roy Hodgson said yesterday that one of his first tasks as England manager was to resolve any potential differences between John Terry and Rio Ferdinand over the race case involving the latter's brother Anton that threatens to divide the squad ahead of the European Championship.

The West Bromwich Albion manager signed a four-year contract at Wembley yesterday, having recognised that there was an "unbelievable" amount of work to be done before England's first Euro 2012 game against France in Donetsk.

Central to that will be discovering whether Rio Ferdinand can play alongside Terry, pictured, who is in court on 9 July to answer the charge of racially aggravated abuse against Anton Ferdinand. Hodgson said yesterday that he would try to speak to the two players in advance of him naming the squad for the European Championship on 14 May.

"I'll have to get in touch with John and Rio to speak with them, hopefully face to face, and find out where they are in this situation. And not just those two. I'll have to speak to as many senior players as I can," Hodgson said.

The Football Association chairman, David Bernstein, refused to discuss other candidates for the job, and did not mention Harry Redknapp, the previous favourite for the post, in either of his two press conferences yesterday. Hodgson said that he had great "empathy" for Redknapp's situation but that the Tottenham Hotspur manager would not want his sympathy.

Hodgson confirmed that he would take Wayne Rooney to Euro 2012 despite the Manchester United striker being suspended for the first two games of the tournament. He also strongly hinted that he would pick just 23 players on 13 May to take to the pre-tournament camp in Marbella. Hodgson will stay in charge of West Bromwich for their final two games of the season. There was no confirmation that the caretaker Stuart Pearce would continue to be involved as a coach.

Hodgson was also asked by a television reporter why he broke the sporting boycott of apartheid South Africa by playing there between 1973 and 1974 for club side Berea Park."I was young at the time, and went there purely for football reasons," Hodgson said. "I was desperate to play football on a full-time basis... I was anti-apartheid, but there's not much we could have done about it. We all thought it was an evil regime."

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