Alex Ferguson: Rio Ferdinand not certain to honour England call up

Manchester United defender was included in Roy Hodgson's squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers

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The Independent Football

Following Rio Ferdinand's re-call to the England set-up, Sir Alex Ferguson has hinted the Manchester United defender may not link up with Roy Hodgson's squad.

Ferdinand has not played for the national team since 2011 and the call up for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro represents the first time Hodgson has selected the 34-year-old.

The England manager has always said his decision not to call on the United defender has been for "footballing reasons", however Ferdinand's omission has been intrinsically linked with off-field matters involving John Terry and Ashley Cole.

Yet Ferguson has cast doubt over Ferdinand's involvement, appearing to hint that the United defender's fitness may be a concern.

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

"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)."

As Ferdinand has aged, he has been used more sparingly at United, however he recently started back-to-back matches against Real Madrid and Chelsea over a five-day period. That he was able to play in United's two biggest games of the season in such quick succession, and perform as well as he did, suggested concerns over his fitness has been alleviating.

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."