LONDON, England, March 18 – Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has pulled out of the England squad for the World Cup qualifiers with San Marino and Montenegro, national team coach Roy Hodgson announced on Monday.
Ferdinand had been called up by Hodgson for the first time, but despite withdrawing from the squad, he has told the England manager that he still wants to play international football.
“I’m disappointed Rio will not be available, but due to the detailed pre-planned training and medical programme he must follow it’s not possible,” said Hodgson, who met Ferdinand in London on Sunday.
Tottenham Hotspur centre-back Steven Caulker has been drafted into the senior squad from the under-21s to take Ferdinand’s place.
“It was important for me to be able to speak with Roy face to face and explain the situation, and one thing I made clear was that my passion and commitment to represent my country is as strong as ever,” said Ferdinand.
“It is disappointing that I won’t be able to play a part in the upcoming games, but I told Roy that I want to continue to be available for England and I look forward to working with him in the future.”
Ferdinand, 34, won the last of his 81 caps in a Euro 2012 qualifying match at home to Switzerland in June 2011.
Hodgson added: “I was pleased that Rio called and asked to meet with me. It was important to hear from him personally about the way he must manage his body between games.
“This is not to say he cannot play back-to-back games – he can and has proven so.
“He’s out this time due to particular pre-planned details already in place for his programme.
“I must place on record how I was impressed with his commitment to playing for England and I look forward to hopefully selecting him for squads in the future.”
Tottenham pair Michael Dawson and Aaron Lennon were both forced to pull out of the England squad due to injury on Sunday, with Manchester City centre-back Joleon Lescott being called up to replace Dawson.
England face San Marino in Serravalle on Friday, before travelling to Podgorica to tackle Group H leaders Montenegro the following Tuesday.
Goalkeepers: Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion), Joe Hart (Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Celtic/SCO)
Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Steven Caulker (Tottenham Hotspur), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Joleon Lescott (Manchester City), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur)
Midfielders: Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley (both Manchester United), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Manchester City), Leon Osman (Everton), Scott Parker (Tottenham Hotspur), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott (both Arsenal), Ashley Young (Manchester United)
Forwards: Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United)