Roy Hodgson accused of 'total lack of respect' over Rio Ferdinand

England manager faces first leadership crisis after calling up Kelly not Ferdinand to squad

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The Independent Football

The Rio Ferdinand camp accused Roy Hodgson of a "total lack of respect" yesterday after the defender was overlooked as a replacement for Gary Cahill, who is out of England's Euro 2012 squad, in favour of the Liverpool full-back Martin Kelly.

Ferdinand's agent, Jamie Moralee, increased the pressure around the Ferdinand-John Terry issue by describing Hodgson's decision not to call-up the 33-year-old as "disgraceful", a strong criticism of the England manager that must have been made with the blessing of his star client.

Moralee, a former player at Millwall and Watford among other clubs, runs New Era Global Sports management, which numbers Ferdinand among its clients, although the player retains an association with his long-term agent, Pini Zahavi. Moralee challenged Hodgson's claim when he named his original squad that Ferdinand had been left out for "football reasons".

Terry, who has been passed fit to travel to Poland on Wednesday, will appear in court on 9 July, charged with the alleged racial abuse of Ferdinand's brother, Anton. Hodgson has always claimed that potential conflict between the two was not the reason he left Ferdinand out but the argument that Kelly, with one cap, is a better option has put pressure on that theory.

Moralee told the Press Association last night: "Lampard, Terry, Barry, Gerrard; all ageing but they go to the tournament. Why is Rio different?

"To treat a player that has captained and served his country 81 times [in this manner] is nothing short of disgraceful. Total lack of respect from Hodgson and the FA as far as I am concerned."

The Manchester United defender declined to comment but tweeted "What reasons?????!!!" soon after the FA announced the call-up for Kelly following Cahill's withdrawal. It was a clear reference to Hodgson's oft-repeated line in his original squad announcement press conference of 16 May that Ferdinand had been omitted "for football reasons"

In the aftermath of the Belgium game, before Cahill was diagnosed with a double fracture of the jaw, Hodgson was asked about calling up Ferdinand but refused to discuss it.

The FA claims in private that the decision to call-up Kelly was made because the Liverpool defender was with the squad up to the Norway game nine days ago, in which he made his debut for three minutes at the end of the match. Kelly was last night returning from holiday in New York, having not been one of the five men on stand-by.

Micah Richards, the Manchester City defender, was not considered by Hodgson because he earlier turned down the opportunity to go on stand-by. Richards was unhappy that the news was broken to him by the Under-21s manager, Stuart Pearce, rather than Hodgson himself.

Ferdinand played in a charity match in Bangkok on 24 May, for Park Ji-sung. He is now thought to have gone on holiday. Terry has been passed fit despite fears about his hamstring during the win over Belgium and he will be reassessed tomorrow.

Steven Gerrard said after the 1-0 win that the England players knew they had to perform better.

"I wouldn't say I'm really pleased," said the captain. "I'm satisfied. It's two wins on the bounce. We kept our discipline, kept our shape. It was a workmanlike performance. I think we can improve with the ball, be better in possession. But the mood is good."

Head to head stats

Rio Ferdinand:
Age 33
Caps 81
Major trophies 10
First-team games 639
Transfer fees £48m
International tournaments 2

Martin Kelly:
Age 22
Caps 1
Major trophies 1
First-team games 52
Transfer fees £0m
International tournaments 0