Ian Herbert: After years of indignities, Rio Ferdinand deserves England call-up

The absence of a call from Wembley this time really would defy any rationale

Rio Ferdinand will not be making the telephone call which signals to Roy Hodgson that he is still where he always was, ready and willing to be pressed into duty for the 82nd time for England. But it is almost beyond the bounds of belief that he should be willing to receive one either, such are the multitude of indignities that have been visited upon him by the national side in recent years.

There was Roy Hodgson's talk on the Tube, of course – the manager telling punters as they all rattled along the Jubilee Line together that it was over between Ferdinand and England – though it was the elevation of Martin Kelly, a 22-year-old Liverpool full-back, to the position in England's squad created by Gary Cahill's broken jaw on the eve of last summer's European Championships which took more coming to terms with.

"What reasons?" Ferdinand asked at the time, having been overlooked a second time, although even in the "good" times of recent years minor discourtesies have gone with the territory. Ferdinand discovered via a television set that Fabio Capello had made him his captain, after John Terry was consumed by the Vanessa Perroncel saga in February 2010.

"He does things a certain way," Ferdinand said of Capello at the time, which seemed mighty generous. It was 13 months later that the Italian reinstated Terry and expected Ferdinand to seek him out for an explanation in an Old Trafford hospitality box. Would any other sport treat a captain this way?

The absence of a call from Wembley this time really would defy any rationale, though. We have reached the key staging post in England's World Cup qualifying campaign, when much of the conjecture boils down to containing Mirko Vucinic, the Juventus striker, in Podgorica, two weeks tonight.

The options are thin. Cahill did not look big on confidence for Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday, Joleon Lescott has played seven games this calendar year, Terry is out of Chelsea's picture, Phil Jagielka and Chris Smalling are injured.

And all the while Ferdinand has been making the case that, while now a player whose fitness requires management, he can contend with most that is thrown at him: Real Madrid and Chelsea in the space of five days, for example. His partnership with Jonny Evans was strong for much of United's FA Cup quarter-final with on Sunday. Evans looked less assured as the game shifted towards the away side in the second half. Ferdinand was ordered and calm.

His indefatigability asks searching questions of those, like Alan Hansen, who want to write off his England days. But it was hard to imagine Gary Neville not making the case for his return yesterday, as he, Hodgson and Ray Lewington surveyed a vital week.

There would be loss of face for Hodgson in returning to one whom he has so often looked beyond and that is something which many in football struggle with. Tell Ferdinand about it. It seems he is about to be passed over yet again and you wonder whether this time will be the last.

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