FA defend their decision to play Ferdinand

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Rio Ferdinand was one of three England players to miss training yesterday in La Manga as the Football Association insisted that the Manchester United defender's fitness had not been risked in the friendly in South Africa. Ferdinand (pictured) had a scan on a knee problem last Thursday, but was given the go-ahead to play in Durban that day. He was substituted at half-time, revealing later: "I hope it's not that serious, but it has got gradually worse and I'm just keeping my fingers crossed." Ferdinand flew to Spain with the squad on Friday, being joined by new arrivals Wayne Rooney, James Beattie, Wayne Bridge, Ashley Cole and Jamie Carragher, while David Beckham left for treatment on the broken bone in his wrist. The United centre-back was put through a gym session along with Paul Scholes, who sustained a knock to his knee in the game in Durban, and Steven Gerrard. FA spokesman Adrian Bevington insisted: "We are in daily communication with Manchester United's medical staff. We would like to make it quite clear that while Rio went for a scan last Thursday, it was done with the complete agreement of United. The scan showed Rio was OK to play." Rooney, who missed the trip to South Africa with a knee problem and is regarded as 50-50 by Everton manager David Moyes to be fit for the friendly against Serbia and Montenegro at Leicester on 3 June, trained under physio Gary Lewin, along with John Terry, who has a calf problem.

Bournemouth promoted

Bournemouth, who missed automatic promotion by one place, crushed Lincoln City 5-2 in the Nationwide Third Division play-off final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Their captain, Carl Fletcher, scored a goal in each half, adding his second 15 minutes from time after Lincoln had threatened to mount a fightback.

Davies in second departure

Striker Kevin Davies has been released by Southampton five years after attracting a club record fee of £7.5m for a move to Blackburn. The 26-year-old, who rejoined the Saints in 1999, made only one start this season and was not included in the FA Cup final squad. "I have heard a few whispers about Sheffield United but there is nothing definite," said Davies, who supported the Blades as a boy.

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