James Lawton: England manager Roy Hodgson gets credit in bank for being brave and decisive over Euro 2012 selections

The new England manager was, as he had to be, relentless in his argument over Ferdinand's fitness

For a man who must have felt these last few days like someone turning out his pockets in the hope of finding a little loose change, England manager Roy Hodgson put on a brave face yesterday. Better still, he gave the distinct impression that he was in charge of both himself and a European Championship squad which, frankly, looks barely competitive.

It cannot have been easy, and the result is not exactly free of contention, but Hodgson may just have sanitised the problem which once again threatened to drag England not just into the column of the losers but also the most deeply dysfunctional of those football nations who like to think they belong in the front rank.

In announcing what is effectively the end of Rio Ferdinand's international career, and the latest decision by a football man of great experience that in competitive terms John Terry might just be worth all the trouble, Hodgson was obliged to insist that his approach to the issue which led to Fabio Capello's defection had been based entirely on football considerations.

Not everyone was prepared to go along with this, and least of all Ferdinand's camp, but Hodgson was unswerving.

He pointed out that Ferdinand has played just once for England in the last year and that if Terry's red card in Barcelona was a disaster it was still true he had made a significant contribution to Chelsea's extraordinary recovery in the later stages of the season (notwithstanding, of course, a less than awe-inspiring last outing against Liverpool).

Hodgson was, as he had to be, quite relentless in his argument that concerns over whether Ferdinand was strong enough to get through the demands of group play in a major tournament (which have also been expressed by his club manager Sir Alex Ferguson) had proved too strong. England is not so rich in world-class talent that the loss of a player of Ferdinand's quality can be dismissed lightly.

After 81 caps and a World Cup performance of such undiluted excellence in 2002 that it has been a constantly haunting backdrop to a career bedevilled by recurring frailty, Ferdinand has plenty of reasons to be sad. However, Hodgson's job – as he made admirably clear yesterday – is to provide himself with the most reliable range of options.

So, with injury to Kyle Walker, Ferdinand's team-mate Phil Jones makes it into the squad partly because of his ability to play at full-back and in the centre of defence. Hodgson, reasonably enough, pointed out that in Wayne Rooney he is already guaranteed a player who will miss two games.

In such difficulties, which were always going to be compounded by the absence of Jack Wilshere, the one English player of recent vintage who offered the sure-fire contribution of competitive maturity and genuine creative impulse, Hodgson has been obliged not so much to pick a squad as paper over the cracks.

Yesterday's evidence was that he had at least put into the margins the possibility of another wrenching episode of civil war in the dressing room. Steven Gerrard may have been a less than magisterial captain in South Africa two years ago but he is by some distance the safest choice for the captaincy of such an unformed team. Still he retains the capacity to inspire on the back of his own efforts. If his vision is sometimes faulty, his competitive heart is almost invariably in the right place.

Elsewhere the debates will crackle on. Admirers of Peter Crouch will no doubt dispute the justice of his exclusion, an argument wittily strengthened by the aside of Paul Merson yesterday when he said, "It is true Andy Carroll has shown a lot of improvement in the last month – but we did start in August."

Crouch does of course have an impressive record with England and his form for Stoke City has been consistently impressive. But then Hodgson did not get his job to confirm the weight of one consensus or another. He is there to follow his instincts and make judgments based on his experience, and yesterday we saw the consequences.

Crouch and Aaron Lennon were said to be the principal victims and Carroll and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain the men who have benefited most from mere bursts of excellence. Yet Hodgson stood his ground with the force you might expect from an old pro.

Oxlade-Chamberlain showed him something for Arsenal against Milan in the Champions League that spoke of an ability to come to a new level of performance at a time of maximum pressure. It was a similar impact by Carroll, when he came so close to turning around the FA Cup final for Liverpool and, who knows, saving the job of Kenny Dalglish that was taken away yesterday.

Hodgson suspects that both young players may have found the kind of impetus which changes games. They are, like the one on the ill-starred brilliance of Rio Ferdinand, big calls, but sooner or later they always have to be made.

Itinerary: England's schedule for the next month

23 May Squad, minus Wayne Rooney and players from Chelsea, assemble in Manchester, staying at the Lowry Hotel. Training takes place at Manchester City's Etihad Stadium.

24 May Further training at the Etihad.

25 May Squad flies to Oslo for England's penultimate friendly, against Norway.

26 May Norway v England.

27-28 May Players given time off to be with their families.

29 May The deadline for final squads to be registered with Uefa. Players reconvene at Grove Hotel in Hertfordshire, joined by Rooney and four Chelsea players including Daniel Sturridge (on stand by). Training at Arsenal's London Colney HQ.

2 June Belgium visit Wembley for England's final pre-tournament friendly.

3-4 June Players time off with families.

5 June Squad reconvenes at Grove Hotel.

6 June Roy Hodgson, his back-room staff and players fly to Krakow, Poland – their base for at least the group stages of the tournament.

11 June Hodgson's first competitive game: England take on France in their opening Group D match in Donetsk.

Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Flat out: Michael Flatley will return to the stage in his show Lord Of The Dance
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
News
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
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.

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape