By John Cross
Rio Ferdinand’s representative has accused the Football Association and England manager Roy Hodgson of treating the defender with “a total lack of respect” after the Manchester United defender suffered another Euro 2012 snub.
The FA confirmed earlier today that Gary Cahill had been ruled out of the tournament after fracturing his jaw in two places during yesterday’s friendly win over Belgium at Wembley.
It meant Hodgson had another space to fill in his squad, having already used his standby defender, Phil Jagielka, to replace Gareth Barry last week.
Ferdinand, 33, would have been the obvious choice given his vast experience, a commodity which England have lost so much of following the injuries to Barry and fellow central midfielder Frank Lampard in the past week.
Instead Hodgson has gone for Liverpool youngster Martin Kelly, who made his international debut as a substitute in the final two minutes of the win in Norway on May 26.
Hodgson faced a barrage of questions when naming his squad on May 16 about whether he had snubbed Ferdinand because of concerns the centre-back would not be able to get along with John Terry, in light of Terry’s impending court case for alleged racist remarks to Ferdinand’s brother Anton at Loftus Road in October. Terry denies the charge against him.
And it appears the Ferdinand camp feel there is more to today’s decision than simply “footballing reasons”, the grounds Hodgson gave for leaving the Manchester United man out of his initial squad.
Ferdinand’s representative and long-standing friend Jamie Moralee tonight said: “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.”
Kelly, who made just 12 Premier League appearances for Liverpool last term, is bound to be relishing his chance.
But having lost the equivalent of 143 caps’ worth of experience last week when Lampard and Barry were ruled out through injury, then bemoaned how much they would be missed, it is hard to believe Hodgson has ignored Ferdinand – who made 38 appearances last term and started United’s last 16 Premier League games – on form grounds alone.
That will bring yet more questions of the coach at the first available opportunity after England arrive at their Krakow base on Wednesday providing, as expected, Terry gets the green light to travel after an initial scan on the tight hamstring he experienced against Belgium yesterday indicated there was no serious damage.
“What reasons?????!!!” was Ferdinand’s first reaction to his 2.8million Twitter followers as debate raged this afternoon, indicating a sense of disenchantment that is magnified in private as the defender tries to comprehend the decision Hodgson has reached.
When he looks at the experienced players who have been picked, Ferdinand could be forgiven for feelings of total fury.
Under such circumstances, it is difficult to see Ferdinand adding to his haul of England caps. Being passed over again today means he will never get the chance to play at a European Championships, having missed out on four tournaments now for a variety of reasons.
England captain Steven Gerrard voiced his anger at the latest injury blow which comes after Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard had to be replaced this week by Jordan Henderson and Phil Jagielka.
Gerrard said: “I am angry about it because we have lost big players with a tournament eight or nine days away. To do well in these tournaments you have to have your big players. For us, it’s a massive blow.”
England defender Joleon Lescott posted on Twitter: “Gutted to hear Gaz is ruled out. The challenge that caused it was more reckless and dangerous than most two footed tackles so why only yellow?”
Manchester City’s Micah Richards, who can play at right back or centre half, was also overlooked again by England – who decided not to be on stand-by after missing out on the original squad.
Mirror Sport can reveal that England boss Roy Hodgson has NEVER rung Richards personally after his exclusion from the original squad and just sent him a text to express his disappointment that he had did not want to be on the standby list.
It is understood that if Hodgson had rung him at the time or any time since then Richards would have joined up but was disappointed at being left out and to only get a call from Stuart Pearce who is no longer part of the senior set-up.
Belgian’s Twitter apology to Cahill
The row over Ferdinand’s non-selection is unfortunate for Cahill and Kelly. The latter may suffer from what should have been the greatest moment of his career being badly tarnished.
And for Cahill it means his misery at an incident condemned by Hodgson, after Dries Mertens deliberately shoved the Chelsea defender into Joe Hart, is largely being ignored.
Mertens has at least expressed remorse for his part in the incident, issuing an apology on his Twitter page today.
The PSV Eindhoven forward wrote: “I sincerely apologize for the harm I’ve cost to Cahill. When in the heat of the moment, you often don’t think about the consequences.
“My thoughts go out to him and I hope he recovers well!”
After Jordan Henderson’s call-up last week, the inclusion of Kelly means England will leave for Poland and Ukraine with over a quarter of their squad made up by Liverpool players whose performance was so bad last season that manager Kenny Dalglish ended up being sacked.
Belgium’s Fulham star Moussa Dembele isn’t imaging that a Kop-fuelled England will be much of a factor in the Polkraine
Dembele, 24, said: “England have a very good squad but I’m not afraid of them. We could compete with them. We don’t have to look up to them.”