Frank Lampard defends Roy Hodgson over handling of Rio Ferdinand call up

England take on San Marino this week

Frank Lampard insists Roy Hodgson does not have a communication problem.

The botched manner of Rio Ferdinand's planned England return ahead of Friday's World Cup qualifier with San Marino at Wembley has raised questions about Hodgson's handling of the affair.

If the England manager had attempted to speak with the Manchester United defender before unveiling his squad last Thursday, he might have discovered for himself that Ferdinand was in no position to accept a return to fold.

But, compared to predecessor Fabio Capello, Lampard insists Hodgson is a "breath of fresh air".

"From the minute I first sat down with him at Chelsea when he came to meet a few of us there before the Euros, I found him a very personable bloke, very dedicated on the training ground, very driven, very pushed, very easy and friendly to talk to - in a good way," said the Chelsea midfielder.

"I have complete respect for him. With me, his communication has been fantastic."

Lampard's assessment extends to confirming he would speak with the 65-year-old before accepting any offer to leave Europe should Chelsea fail to come up with a contract extension.

"If there's ever a time, whenever it is, where there is an option of going outside Europe, I am sure Roy and I would have the conversation, whether it's before or during," said Lampard, who reached 200 Chelsea goals against West Ham on Sunday.

Nevertheless, the absence of Ferdinand is a blow given Gary Cahill joined the list of injured central defenders yesterday, triggering a first call-up for Newcastle's Steven Taylor.

It has been viewed by some as Ferdinand's revenge for his omission from Hodgson's Euro 2012 squad for "footballing reasons".

Lampard does not feel the situation is quite so simple.

"Rio hasn't become unpatriotic overnight," he said.

"He is a very driven man and is like that in anything he does in life.

"I don't know the individual circumstances, but he will want to carry on playing good football whether it be for Manchester United or England."

And to those who believe sitting out England duty to have a few massages is pretty shoddy, Lampard has a simple answer.

"The fitness people with England and Chelsea, the masseurs and that, they're not mugs," he said.

"If you want to be a top player these days you have to be aware of the whole package, how you train, when you go into the gym, in the swimming pool, getting massages at the right time.

"I'm not talking about massages where you're lying around with a little blonde bird. It's sports massage.

"You don't lie there for hours getting massage, but every player comes up with his own routine."

PA

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