England manager Roy Hodgson cast aside Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand, probably signalling the end of his international career, but included former captain John Terry in his squad for next month's European Championship. By Justin Palmer.
Hodgson, appointed on May 1 to replace Fabio Capello who quit in February after guiding England to the finals in Poland and Ukraine, also named Liverpool striker Andy Carroll in a 23-man party along with uncapped Norwich City goalkeeper John Ruddy and Arsenal’s teenage winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Striker Wayne Rooney was included despite having to miss the first two matches of the tournament through suspension, while Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard will captain the side who have been drawn in Group D with co-hosts Ukraine, France and Sweden.
Hodgson said Ferdinand’s omission and Terry’s inclusion were both “footballing decisions”, despite media reports that the pair have fallen out.
Defender Terry is in the squad despite losing the England captaincy in February after being sent to a trial on July 9 charged with racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender and Ferdinand’s brother Anton. He has pleaded not guilty.
Hodgson conceded his decision to take Terry would be questioned in some quarters.
“I realised when I selected him there would be people who would raise their eyebrows, that’s the decision I have made and the decision I will live with,” Hodgson told a news conference at Wembley stadium on Wednesday.
“I believe that John Terry, especially in the latter half of the season, has played very well. I selected him because he is the man for the job.”
Ferdinand won the last of his 81 caps against Switzerland in June last year and has since suffered with injuries.
“Rio is a man who I respect as a player, and as a person. I don’t know him well personally but I’ve seen enough of him over the years to realise what a fine footballer he is, what a good person he is,” added Hodgson.
“But I had to make a footballing decision, had to decide on the basis, basically, of what I have seen in recent months, in particular, influenced to a certain extent by the fact that Rio hasn’t played so much since the (2010) World Cup and has only played for England once in the last year.”
Hodgson said Gerrard was the man to help him forge “team unity”, adding that the player he knew well from his time as Liverpool manager merited the “distinction” of captaining England.
Gerrard’s Liverpool team mate Carroll got the nod up front ahead of Stoke City’s beanpole frontman Peter Crouch, who boasts a fine scoring record at international level with 22 goals in 42 appearances.
Carroll, signed by Liverpool for 35 million pounds ($56.14 million) in January 2011 from Newcastle United, has endured a difficult spell at Anfield scoring just 11 goals in 56 appearances.
“He (Carroll) is a different type of player to the others in the squad,” said Hodgson. “He has that ability to hold the ball up, that aerial ability which is very useful, but also has the ability to make runs behind defenders and use his strength and his power.”
Ruddy, who is due to get married on June 2 and has been given special leave by the FA to marry his partner Laura on the day England play Belgium in a friendly at Wembley, could barely contain his surprise at the inclusion on the back of a superb first Premier League season with Norwich City.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet but I’m absolutely over the moon,” he told Sky Sports. “It was quite surreal. I can’t wait to get started. It just caps off a wonderful couple of years I’ve had at Norwich.”
Hodgson said Ruddy had enjoyed an excellent season with Norwich while Oxlade-Chamberlain had made a strong impression on him.
Liverpool’s Stewart Downing was a surprise inclusion with the left-winger having failed to score in the Premier League this season, as was Jermain Defoe who has struggled to break into the Tottenham Hotspur first team despite scoring regularly.
Hodgson said he had pondered long and hard before finalising his squad.
“I won’t deny it’s not been an easy squad to put together and it’s taken a lot of thought. I’m pleased with the result,” he said. “It’s a well-balanced squad.”
Birmingham City’s Jack Butland, Everton defender Phil Jagielka, Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson, Manchester City winger Adam Johnson and Chelsea forward Daniel Sturridge were named on the standby list.
England begin their campaign against France on June 11 in Donetsk before travelling to Kiev to play Sweden on June 15 and returning to Ukraine to face the co-hosts on June 19.
England face Norway in Oslo in a warm-up game on May 26 when Hodgson makes his debut as manager before they face Belgium at Wembley Stadium.
Photo: England soccer team manager Roy Hodgson attends a news conference to announce the Euro 2012 England squad at Wembley Stadium in London May 16, 2012. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor.
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