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The Sport Matrix: Tuesday 19 March 2013

Ferdinand leaves Hodgson with new selection worry

After Rio Ferdinand pulled out of England's double header against San Marino and Montenegro, manager Roy Hodgson was last night left to contemplate a worrying shortage of experienced centre-halves. With Gary Cahill a serious doubt due to injury, only Joleon Lescott, Chris Smalling and late replacement Steven Caulker are available.

Ferdinand, above, met with Hodgson on Sunday night and both decided that the 34-year-old defender would not be able to tailor his strict training programme to accommodate the qualifiers.

However, Ferdinand was only likely to have been asked to play in the latter of the two games, against Montenegro a week today. Hodgson insisted it is not the end of the defender's international career. "I was pleased that Rio called and asked to meet with me," said Hodgson. "I was impressed with his commitment to playing for England and I look forward to hopefully selecting him for squads in the future."

Ferdinand said: "I told Roy that I want to continue to be available for England and I look forward to working with him in the future." MORE

Fernandes gives 'lifelong' assurance

Queen's Park Rangers chairman Tony Fernandes has assured fans of the Premier League's bottom side that he has "lifelong commitment" to the club, even if they are relegated. He said: "We fight and we fight. I am not despondent at all." MORE

Egypt riot horror still haunts Fathi

Just over a year after 74 fans died at an Egyptian football match between Al-Ahly and El-Masry, Hull City's Ahmed Fathi describes how he feared for his life after coming under attack from rioters. MORE

League clubs told to tackle homophobia

Minister for Sport Hugh Robertson has backed calls for professional football clubs to do more to combat homophobia in the game. Only 29 of the 92 league clubs are actively engaged in the 'Football v Homophobia' initiative which launched in February.

Odemwingie to be dealt with by club

West Bromwich say they will deal with Peter Odemwingie internally following his latest criticism of the club on Twitter. On Sunday the Nigerian international hit out at being omitted from the Albion starting XI for the past four games. MORE

Wiggins back on form in Catalonia

Bradley Wiggins produced a powerful performance on the first stage of the Tour of Catalonia yesterday. The Briton led the group to the final straight, taking 28 seconds out of his rivals to finish sixth overall, sending a message for the remainder of the Catalan tour. MORE

Button 'drained' by stalling McLaren

Jenson Button said he was "drained" after his McLaren's poor performance, having finished in a disappointing ninth place in Sunday's Australian Grand Prix. "To arrive at the first race and not have the performance, mentally, it is very draining," said Button. MORE

Wigan chairman defends bad tackle

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan has said Callum McManaman's challenge on Newcastle's Massadio Haidara on Sunday was not reckless, despite the defender having suspected ligament damage. "The ball was there and McManaman got it as clean as a whistle," Whelan said. MORE

Two arrested for racism offences

Two West Ham fans have been arrested over racially aggravated public order offences following Sunday's Premier League match against Chelsea. The arrests come as police launched a separate investigation after coins were thrown when Frank Lampard scored. MORE

Patience is key for Cook in final Test

England captain Alastair Cook claims his side will not attack from the first ball of Thursday's third and decisive Test against New Zealand. "If you start chasing it from ball one, you leave yourself very exposed and come unstuck," he said. MORE

Opinion: Sam Wallace

These days, organising a squad of 26 footballers to fulfil an international fixture can seem about as complicated as negotiating the bail-out strategy for the Cypriot economy. MORE

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