Yesterday it was announced that Roy Hodgson had recalled Rio Ferdinand into the England squad for upcoming World cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro. However, the 34-year-old defender has yet to publicly respond to being asked into the team for the first time since June 2011. In addition, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson -- during his weekly press conference today -- suggested that fitness concerns could possibly prevent the former England captain from joining the national team next week:
"I was as surprised as anyone when I heard that [Rio was being called up]. I need to speak to our doctor. We prepare Rio in certain ways and he has certain treatments he has to go through. The procedures have been the same all season, which has given him fantastic performance levels when he’s playing for us. We have to consider that and Rio is considering that. And we’ll see what the outcome of that is. [He] has to make sure he’s going to be okay in terms of the number of games he plays. We’ve been doing that for two years with him. And it’s worked - the way we’ve detailed his training programmes and given him the treatments he needs for the various complaints he has in terms of his back and groin and things like that. So far it’s worked very well. We have to look at all these things before Rio decides."
- Ferguson | Source: ManUtd.com
Rio's situation with England and Hodgson has been complicated by the racism row that occurred between his brother -- Anton -- and former England captain John Terry. Despite the England manager stating that the United defender hasn't been chosen for nearly two years because of 'footballing reason', it was quite clear that there was simply no desire to bring Rio in because of possible factions in the England squad -- some players clearly supported the Ferdinand's while some players were loyal to Terry.
With Terry retired from international duty, and with Rio clearly being the best central-defender that England has at the moment, it would have been more ludicrous than ever for Hodgson not to call him into the squad. If Ferguson had his way, though, he likely would prefer the 34-year-old not go on England duty. However, the decision will likely come down to Rio. The fitness concern is a real one and as the gaffer states, the club has done a magnificent job to keep the defender fit for the past year-and-a-half.