France manager Laurent Blanc today rallied behind former Manchester United team-mate Rio Ferdinand and said it was a surprise to see him left out of England's Euro 2012 plans.
Blanc believes Ferdinand was left out because of non-sporting factors, which has been a suspicion widely held among followers of the England team.
England manager Roy Hodgson has stated "football reasons" were his motivation for excluding Ferdinand, however the potential for disharmony between Ferdinand and John Terry is seen by many as the likely cause.
Terry faces a court case on July 9 after being charged with making racist comments to Ferdinand's brother, Anton, during a match between Chelsea and QPR last October. Chelsea captain Terry denies the charge.
Blanc said: "Every team has its problems and concerns. The English have injury problems but I know Rio Ferdinand. I think from afar that the choice to not take him isn't a sporting choice.
"It has been surprising to not see him. If the manager has made the choice ... I am not in his place."
Speaking at a press conference, with his comments widely reported in the French media, Blanc said: "I'm not going to interfere in the affairs of England. Rio Ferdinand is a very good player but (his exclusion) has been surprising with all the injuries in that department."
Hodgson called Liverpool's one-cap defender Martin Kelly into his squad at the weekend when Chelsea centre-back Gary Cahill was ruled out by injury, leading Jamie Moralee, Ferdinand's long-time friend and business partner, to accuse the new manager of "a total lack of respect".
England play France in their Euro 2012 opening match in Donetsk next Monday.