Rio Ferdinand hits out at 'haters' after criticism at long flight for TV appearance

The Manchester United defender pulled out of the England squad due to fitness issues

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The Independent Football

Rio Ferdinand has hit out at criticism after it was revealed he was taking a 15 hour round-trip flight to Doha despite concerns over a chronic back injury.

The Manchester United defender pulled out of the England squad this week due to "the detailed pre-planned training and medical programme he must follow" - meaning he made himself unavailable for England's two World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro.

That he was taking the flight to Qatar was revealed by the Daily Mail - which led with the story on their back page today.

Ferdinand is travelling to Doha to work on a television broadcast of England's game against San Marino this Friday. The 34-year-old will be a pundit on Al Jazeera for the match.

The long trip in light of his injury concerns were criticised - with the article appearing under the headline 'Plane Stupid'.

Yet Ferdinand appears to have hit back, taking to Twitter to say: "Haters are gonna hate...also assume everything...although it must be the gospel truth based on assumptions!"

The former West Ham defender looked to explain the situation: "1) Flown out for some pre-planned downtime...with a bit of punditry thrown in for a game I would have watched anyway...

"2) No different from what I done on the last 10day international break...thank you guys."

Ferdinand had been called up to the England squad for the first time since June 2011, and despite his withdrawal, manager Roy Hodgson insisted the door would not be closed on the defender.

"I was pleased that Rio called and asked to meet with me. It was important to hear from him personally about the way he must manage his body between games," the England manager said on Monday.

"This is not to say he cannot play back-to-back games - he can and has proven so.

"He's out this time due to particular pre-planned details already in place for his programme.

"I must place on record how I was impressed with his commitment to playing for England and I look forward to hopefully selecting him for squads in the future."

Ferdinand himself said after withdrawing from the squad: "One thing I made clear was that my passion and commitment to represent my country is as strong as ever.

"It is disappointing that I won't be able to play a part in the upcoming games but I told Roy that I want to continue to be available for England and I look forward to working with him in the future."