Fabio Capello last night left Rio Ferdinand out of his squad to play the final Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro, the latest indication that the former captain is slipping out of the national team reckoning.
Having played against Basel in the Champions League on Tuesday night, Ferdinand was a late substitute for Manchester United in the win over Norwich City on Saturday, coming on for the final 14 minutes. The 32-year-old also played against Stoke City the weekend before last
This latest decision to omit him from the squad that will play in Podgorica on Friday is understood to be based on a combination of lack of form and fitness. Ferdinand has been a mainstay of the England team for the last 10 years but it would appear that both Gary Cahill and Phil Jones, his United team-mate, are ahead of him now to partner John Terry.
The fourth centre-back in the England squad is Everton's Phil Jagielka, who has been picked ahead of Joleon Lescott, who has dropped out of the squad. Ferdinand's latest injury was a hamstring picked up against West Bromwich Albion in August but although he has figured in United's last three games, Capello evidently still has doubts about him.
Since his injury at the World Cup finals in June last year, Ferdinand has played just three of England's 15 subsequent games up until now. He was stripped of the captaincy at the start of the year and his unwillingness to speak to Capello in the aftermath of that episode does not seem to have helped relations between the two men.
The Fulham striker Bobby Zamora has been called into the squad as well United's 20-year-old striker Danny Welbeck, scorer of two goals against Basel last week and another against Norwich on Saturday. Kyle Walker, the Tottenham right-back who scored the winner against Arsenal yesterday, comes into the squad in place of the injured Chris Smalling.
The squad came too early for Steven Gerrard who has made just two 30-minute substitute performance since his return from six months out with a chronic groin injury. The goalkeeper Scott Carson, currently playing for Bursaspor in Turkey, has come back into the squad in place of Robert Green. Jermain Defoe, picked in the previous squad for the wins over Bulgaria and Wales also drops out.
England squad for the Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro: S Carson (Bursaspor), J Hart (Man City), D Stockdale (Ipswich); L Baines (Everton), G Cahill (Bolton), A Cole (Chelsea), P Jagielka (Everton), P Jones (Man Utd), M Richards (Man City), J Terry (captain, Chelsea), K Walker (Tottenham); G Barry (Man City), S Downing (Liverpool), A Johnson (Man City), F Lampard (Chelsea), J Milner (Man City), S Parker (Tottenham), T Walcott (Arsenal), A Young (Man Utd); D Bent (Aston Villa), A Carroll (Liverpool), W Rooney (Man Utd), D Welbeck (Man Utd), B Zamora (Fulham)