'No one can trade on reputation,' says Ferdinand

Michael Owen is once again playing no part in a vital 2010 World Cup qualifier but his absence is doing a wonderful job of focusing the minds of those who have left him behind. Rio Ferdinand admitted yesterday that even England's top players now recognise the stark truth that, under Fabio Capello, reputations count for nothing.

Capello has demonstrated to his England players there will be no room for sentiment with his treatment of Owen, whom he has overlooked this week despite injuries to Emile Heskey, Carlton Cole and Darren Bent. Ferdinand said yesterday that the players now understand that – whatever their status – they cannot afford to lose either form or fitness under Capello if they want to stay part of his plans.

Ferdinand is set to reclaim his place tonight against Ukraine, in place of Matthew Upson, after sitting out Saturday's 4-0 win over Slovakia with a groin injury. Ferdinand said: "There can be no complacency in this squad. Look at Michael Owen – he's got 40 goals in 89 appearances. You'd have said he was bang on to get 100 caps two or three years ago. But this manager has come in and he's seeing things from a different angle."

The Manchester United defender said he believed the Capello approach, and the abolition of favouritism, was something the England team had not experienced for a quarter of a century but that it was exactly what was required. Ferdinand said: "Over the last 20 or 25 years there have been four or five players who you could say it didn't matter if they played poorly. They'd always get the shirt. Now no one is guaranteed to be in the team.

"It's better if people are on their toes. It keeps the hunger in your belly, the desire, the passion. If you're not fit enough, or not on form, you won't get in the squad. That's the way it's got to be. Look at what the manager has won. You don't win what he's won by having a lot of sentiment.

"It's black and white, no grey areas. No ifs, buts or maybes. [Capello says] 'This is what I want from you. If you can't do it, then you're not the right man to be in the squad'."

Ferdinand sampled life on the outside during Saturday's friendly at Wembley, when he watched Upson's accomplished display alongside the captain, John Terry. He admitted that such stiff competition for places made him uneasy. He said: "That was all I was thinking about during the game, that someone else was getting an opportunity to stake their claim."

Terry and Ferdinand remain Capello's preferred choice at the centre of defence, despite a persistent back injury restricting the latter's recent performances for England – they have only played alongside one another four times in the 15 months that Capello has been in charge. The pair last played together in September's pivotal 4-1 victory over Croatia in their World Cup qualifier in Zagreb.

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there