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Hodgson sorry for Ferdinand gaffe

ESPN staff
October 4, 2012
Roy Hodgson had to face questions about Rio Ferdinand on Thursday © PA Photos

England manager Roy Hodgson has apologised to Rio Ferdinand for the manner in which he revealed the Manchester United defender's absence from his latest England squad.

Hodgson revealed to a group of travellers on the London Underground on Wednesday evening that Ferdinand had not been selected in his squad to face San Marino and Poland - instead choosing to call up Stoke City's Ryan Shawcross as John Terry's replacement when the full squad was announced on Thursday.

The selection has been widely interpreted as ending Ferdinand's international career, but Hodgson insists that is not the case - saying he will still be considered for future squads.

Nevertheless, he admitted to regrets about how the story got out.

"I have tried to get in touch with Rio today,'' said Hodgson. "I am disappointed that a stray conversation has been reported in that way.

"I didn't say Rio's career was over. I might have admitted, foolishly I guess, and I only have myself to blame, that I wasn't going to choose him in this squad.

"I am just disappointed this could be seen as a lack of respect to Rio which is something I would shy away from. I have the utmost respect for him, as a person and a player.

"It is not for me to call time on anyone's career. I would never dream of calling time on anyone's career. It is up to an individual player to decide if he doesn't want to play anymore and when I speak to Rio I will make that very clear to him.

"But the bottom line is I am sticking to my guns. I am staying with the players I selected for the Euros and I am looking to the future.''

Hodgson admitted to a certain naivety about his conversations on public transport, as he and fans made their way home following Arsenal's Champions League match against Olympiacos.

The former West Brom manager acknowledged that he may have to be less open with members of the public in future, for fear of further unwanted leaks.

"All I remember was that I was talking to quite a lot of people on the Tube and one guy said, 'Is Rio in the next squad?','' he said. "I think I might have said, 'I don't think so' and that is about as far as I went.

"But I shouldn't say that of course. It's a mistake and I need to apologise for it.

"This is one of the hazards I suppose of travelling on Tube trains when you go up to London and then speaking to people who ask me questions rather than sitting there tight-lipped refusing to ever open my mouth.

"I've paid for it and I will learn in future. Maybe this will be a lesson for all the people who see me on the Tube in future: please don't be too offended if I refuse to answer any questions you ask me.''

Ferdinand was considered to be in the frame for an international recall after Terry retired from the Three Lions, with Shawcross - last called up by Fabio Capello back in 2010 - getting the nod instead.

Hodgson was not prepared to indulge questions about the potential for Terry to return to the fold in the future - insisting he was focused only on those players who remained available to him.

"It's a hypothetical question. How can you pick someone in the squad if they have retired from international football?" Hodgson asked. "He has retired. Would I pick Bobby Charlton if he hadn't stopped playing for England?

"What I've said about John Terry, I stand by every word. I regret his decision but I respect it. I accept it and I move forward.

"I look at the other options available to me and keep my eyes firmly fixed on qualification for Brazil in two years' time.''

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