Double blunder puts Ferdinand's place at risk

Accused yesterday of "coasting" through games by the BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson, Ferdinand claimed his apparently laid-back approach should not be mistaken for a lack of desire, and that defeats by Northern Ireland and Blackburn Rovers in September affected him as badly as any fan.

"With England in that last game, it was almost as if you were walking out of Windsor Park lower than a snake's belly," he said. "No matter how much money you have or what kind of cocoon you live in, it's still a reality that you have lost a game of football. As a player you want to be able to go outside with your chest out and head held high. We're supporters as well. We want to see England in the World Cup. And that means us putting in great performances in the next two World Cup qualifying games."

Sven Goran Eriksson names his squad tonight for the home matches with Austria on Saturday and Poland on Wednesday week, and Ferdinand's place in the team has come under pressure - he was at fault for both Fulham goals as United won 3-2 at Craven Cottage yesterday - from Arsenal's Sol Campbell, who has returned to fitness and form.

"Against Austria we want to make sure that people know you have done a good job and played well," he added. "It's all or nothing now."

Ferdinand did not deny that harsh words had been spoken between Wayne Rooney and David Beckham in Belfast, but said the reports had been exaggerated. "You see arguments on every pitch. That's part and parcel of football. But because it's England it's blown up into a major incident. Things are said in the dressing room, too. People think Sven comes in, sits down and never speaks. Words were said, though, in the dressing room after the Northern Ireland defeat, and I'm sure more things will be said when we meet up before the Austria game."

United's win took them to within seven points of the leaders, Chelsea, while Charlton's fine early-season form faltered when they threw away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 at home to Spurs.

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