Ferdinand relishing captaincy

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The Independent Football

Rio Ferdinand has vowed to 'cherish the moment' when he leads England into battle against Kazakhstan at Wembley tomorrow.

With John Terry ruled out due to a back injury, coach Fabio Capello has confirmed Ferdinand will skipper his country for only the second time - and the first in competitive combat.

Many pundits felt the Manchester United defender was unfortunate to miss out to Terry when Capello chose his permanent captain in August.

Ferdinand has insisted the disappointment has not affected him, or his relationship with Terry.

But tomorrow he will get the opportunity he has always dreamed of.

The 29-year-old said: "Being captain in any game is great, but leading out England in the first World Cup qualifier at Wembley is very special.

"I am very much looking forward to it. I will cherish this moment."

Ferdinand previously skippered England in the friendly defeat to France last March, when he emerged with plenty of credit.

Sir Alex Ferguson has said the Londoner will be the next permanent skipper of United, with Gary Neville's long-term injuries meaning he often wore the armband for the Red Devils last season, including for the Champions League final win over Chelsea in Moscow.

However, leading his country out - at the new national stadium - promises to be a different experience completely.

He explained: "The biggest thing will be walking out at Wembley. It is a fantastic new stadium and the home of our national team.

"To lead England out against France in Paris was great, but I think this will up the ante even more.

"Being at home in front of a sell-out crowd, in front of our own fans, my family there as well - I can't wait."

Although understandably elated to get the job, Ferdinand is sorry Terry will miss out, recognising the hole it will leave in England's defence.

However, with Matthew Upson, Joleon Lescott and Wes Brown all candidates to replace the Chelsea man, Ferdinand is confident England will not be hampered too much against the eastern Europeans.

"John is a top player and to miss anyone of that calibre is disappointing," he said.

"But there are pros and cons to every situation. He is out of the team through injury, which is disappointing, now someone else has to come in and throw their hat into the ring.

"Whoever the manager deems right to play will go in with every confidence and produce the goods." Ferdinand is determined England will retain their 100 per cent start to Group Six.

Yet he believes the full backing of a capacity 90,000 crowd is required to really put Kazakhstan under pressure.

"People sometimes forget that football is entertainment, and we're there to entertain the fans," he said.

"But it is a two-way street. They can help us entertain them; when they scream their hearts out and make some noise.

"A lot of times in away games the fans are very vocal and you come out of the stadium thinking the atmosphere was incredible, and if we'd gone a goal down it would have been a hard place to be.

"We want Wembley to be like that, through the way we play and with the help of our fans creating that kind of atmosphere."

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