John Terry and Rio Ferdinand decision made for footballing reasons insists England manager Roy Hodgson
Wednesday 16 May 2012
Roy Hodgson focused on footballing matters as he explained the selection of John Terry and the omission of Rio Ferdinand in his England squad for this summer's European Championship.
Terry was selected despite the July court case awaiting him regarding allegations that he racially abused QPR defender Anton Ferdinand, which Terry denies.
Ferdinand's elder brother Rio being left out of the squad will help to avoid any tension that could have stemmed from the pair sharing a dressing room in Poland and Ukraine.
The impending court case also saw Terry stripped of the captaincy by the Football Association, a decision which saw Fabio Capello resign his post and Hodgson eventually succeed him. Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard will captain England this summer.
Hodgson said: "If we take the court case first of all, that's obviously very unfortunate for him but we must emphasise he is an innocent man until such time as he is proven guilty.
"My decision with John Terry was based purely on footballing matters, I was given a free hand as to the squad I picked.
"I realised that when I selected him there would be people who would raise eyebrows but that's the decision that I've made, that's the decision I shall live with."
He continued: "I selected John Terry for footballing reasons and I left out Rio Ferdinand for footballing reasons.
"I've spoken to both of them of course. I had to do that.
"In the last couple of days I've spoken to both of them and explained to them why I've come to the decision."
Terry led Chelsea to FA Cup success and helped them reach the Champions League final as they rebuilt their season under interim manager Roberto Di Matteo.
The defender will be suspended for the latter showpiece after he was sent off in the semi-final second leg for an off-the-ball clash with Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez.
Hodgson said: "I believe John Terry, especially in the latter part of the season, has played very well.
"I know you'll say he shouldn't have done what did in Barcelona but I'm looking over a longer period that that.
"I think he's played well, I think he played an important part in Chelsea's FA Cup final victory, an important part in their reaching the Champions League final and so therefore I selected him because I think he's the man for job. I'm hoping and believing that he will help us win matches."
Hodgson said Ferdinand had taken his omission in a "gracious" manner.
"He was obviously disappointed. I'd be surprised had he not been," Hodgson said.
"He was very gracious and he wished myself and the team the very best of luck in the tournament."
He stressed he had no doubts over Ferdinand's ability to get through a tournament on a physical basis.
"I had a private conversation with Sir Alex (Ferguson) 10 days ago," Hodgson said.
"I think Rio has done exceptionally well this year. He's played a lot of matches through injury.
"He's got himself on the field of play when many a player wouldn't have done so.
"I'm also wary of that because I know there have been times in the season where Rio has played three matches in a week.
"I would be lying if that [the ability to play matches close together] was the major reason for not selecting him.
"It was purely on other footballing reasons.
"I admire Rio Ferdinand as a player.
"I think he's a fine footballer and I respect him, but I had to pick a squad with defenders I wanted to take to the Euros."
Hodgson said Ferdinand's lack of recent international action had been a major factor.
"One game in the last year and only three games since 2010," Hodgson said.
"Having taken over the squad, I've been very conscious of the fact I'm to some extent being parachuted in to take charge of a Capello squad which has qualified for this tournament.
"I wanted to, at least where I can, remain faithful to the players who got us there."
Hodgson is confident Terry's court case will not be a distraction.
"No, he's had that court case hanging over him and it's not distracted him in lifting the FA Cup and helping his team reach a Champions League final," Hodgson said.
"I know how committed he is to England.
"I don't think anyone has any cause to doubt his desire and his commitment to England and his pride in playing for England."
Hodgson raised various points in a private conversation with Terry, and said: "He assured me I need have no fears or worries over any of my issues."
Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy were the two uncapped players to get Hodgson's vote.
The England boss believes attacking midfielder Oxlade-Chamberlain, 18, can be an ace in the pack for the national team.
"He's a very, very exciting player," Hodgson said.
"He's given one or two performances which have made quite an impression upon me, not least when Arsenal played Milan at the Emirates Stadium. I was there and saw how well he dealt with (Andrea) Pirlo and (Massimo) Ambrosini at the centre of midfield.
"The fact he is that type of player who can play wide or central also affected my decision as well, as well as that for the future he's one we're going to be seeing a lot of if he can continue as he started."
Liverpool's Andy Carroll was named as one of four striking options and Hodgson admitted he had liaised with Reds boss Kenny Dalglish over the sometimes controversial frontman.
Capello instructed the former Newcastle player to curb his drinking habits after a number of off-field incidents, which at one point saw him bailed by police on assault charges on condition that he lived with captain Kevin Nolan.
He was also among three players sent home from an England Under-19 squad in October 2007 for breaking a curfew but Hodgson was reassured by what his Anfield successor had to say.
"I spoke to Kenny at some length about him because I don't know him particularly well as a person and one can easily be tricked by perceptions of players and what you hear or read about them," he said.
"Kenny was absolutely convinced about the player's ability and his personality and his seriousness as a professional and when I heard that, I had no further reservations.
"He is a different type of player to the others in the squad. He has that ability to hold the ball up, he has that aerial ability which is very useful, but he also has the ability to make runs behind defenders and use his strength and his power."
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