• World Cup qualifiers

Hodgson set for Rio discussions

ESPN staff
March 28, 2013
Rio Ferdinand last played for England against Switzerland in 2011 © PA Photos

England manager Roy Hodgson says he will hold further discussions with Rio Ferdinand over a potential return to international action.

Ferdinand withdrew from England's squad prior to their recent World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro due to an "intricate" and "pre-planned" fitness programme.

Hodgson has now indicated that any future call-ups for the Manchester United defender will hinge on an open dialogue over his fitness regime, with friendlies against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil looming.

"If he is going to play in the future there will have to be further discussions, not least about his fitness programme and his club," said Hodgson.

"But I have absolutely nothing to add to what I said when his name came up before and I have no interest in discussing someone who isn't here."

However, despite his suggestion that Ferdinand remains a candidate for his next England squad, Hodgson took time to praise centre-back pairing Joleon Lescott and Chris Smalling for their efforts in the 1-1 draw in Podgorica.

"The two centre-backs did very well," said Hodgson. "Smalling was excellent and Joleon Lescott did a very good job as well.

"I would have thought if there are two players who deserve to come out of this game with credit rather than any negativity it is the two centre-backs.

"Certainly it would be extremely unfair to suggest it was the performance of Smalling and Lescott which culminated in us drawing the game rather than winning it."

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