Roy Hodgson was facing embarrassment last night when it emerged that he told fellow Tube passengers en route to the Emirates Stadium for Arsenal's Champions League game that he would not select Rio Ferdinand again for the national team.
The England manager names his squad today for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland with a shortage of centre-halves following John Terry's retirement from international football. He is likely to face further questions over his decision to ignore Ferdinand, who his coach Gary Neville said on Monday fell foul of a new policy of not selecting players in their mid-30s to sit on the bench.
After turning his back on Ferdinand, Hodgson could add a new face to the squad among his centre-halves, with Michael Dawson and Ryan Shawcross possibilities. The Tottenham defender Steven Caulker was named yesterday in Stuart Pearce's Under-21s squad for the European Championship double-header against Serbia, which kicks off tomorrow week, leaving just Gary Cahill, Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka among the fit centre-backs from Hodgson's regular pool.
Dawson, 28, who has four caps, is yet to start a game for Spurs this season after the club tried to sell him in August. Hodgson has not been overly impressed with Caulker, hence his return to the Under-21s. Shawcross, 24, has been called up to one England squad before by Fabio Capello – against Egypt in March 2010 – but is still yet to win his first cap.
The Manchester United pair Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are injured, leaving Hodgson with a restricted choice. Faced with a similar number of injuries to key players, Capello selected Michael Mancienne for his squad to face Germany in November 2008 although the player, now at Hamburg in the Bundesliga, was never used in the game. There are other uncapped English centre-halves in the Premier League such as Steven Taylor and Mike Williamson at Newcastle.
Hodgson also has to make a decision on whether to call Aaron Lennon back into the squad.
Raheem Sterling and Jack Butland have both gone back to the Under-21s for the qualifiers against Serbia – two legs inside five days – while Manchester United's Nick Powell, Andros Townsend of Spurs and Liverpool's Andre Wisdom have all been given their first Under-21s call-ups by Pearce. Jack Rodwell is also back in the Under-21s.