Roy Hodgson denies John Terry will split England squad at Euro 2012Publish piece of news
Roy Hodgson denies John Terry will split England squad at Euro 2012
• Rio Ferdinand omitted 'for purely footballing reasons'
• Manager optimistic Scott Parker will be fit
Roy Hodgson has insisted John Terry will not prove a divisive influence in the England dressing room at Euro 2012 after selecting the Chelsea captain in his 23-man party for the tournament, and stressed Rio Ferdinand had been omitted purely for "footballing reasons".
Terry, who denies wrongdoing, is due in court on 9 July charged with racially abusing Ferdinand's younger brother, Anton, during Chelsea's defeat at Queens Park Rangers last October and there had been fears the furore surrounding that issue might fracture the squad. Ferdinand is understood to be angered by his omission and is convinced he has been sacrificed in the belief he could not be picked alongside Terry at the risk of splits developing in the camp.
Hodgson preferred to point to the fact Ferdinand has not featured regularly for his country since before the 2010 World Cup – due to injury – and stressed that although he is acutely aware of the impending court case, it had not influenced his decision.
The manager has picked Andy Carroll as well as the uncapped Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and John Ruddy, and all but the Chelsea contingent and Wayne Rooney, who is banned for the first two games, will convene for a training camp in Manchester next Wednesday.
The team will be captained by Steven Gerrard, a player who has been restricted by injury to only 33 minutes for his country since November 2010, but it was the inclusion of Terry, the former skipper, that inevitably drew the focus. Asked whether the Chelsea player's selection risked being divisive, Hodgson said: "No, I didn't have any reason to think that. I chose John Terry, and excluded Rio Ferdinand for purely footballing reasons. Other issues were not significant in my thinking.
"Everyone knows a situation has arisen, but I have tried to put it as far from my mind as possible. If I honestly believed the two of them were right to take, or that neither were right, I'd have done that. I've picked a squad in good faith who will go to this tournament to do a job for England. No one tried to convince me it would be better with or without any player, so I'll stand by my decision and accept any criticism that comes my way.
"But I've been impressed with a lot of what John Terry has done over the course of the season. He's played a major part in helping Chelsea to the Champions League final, and it's not as if John Terry's a person who hasn't had a lot of criticism in his life. He's had to deal with it. Now he has to stand up and face the situation he finds himself in, but he has the strength of character to do that. I hope his performances on the field will give the team a better chance of getting a result than if he wasn't there."
The manager did not mention the court case in his conversations with Terry or Ferdinand, and stressed he respects and admires the United defender who, he said, had accepted his omission "graciously". "But, as a coach, you have to make decisions sometimes," he added. "I wanted seven 'back' players and three centre-halves, and Phil Jones can play right-back or centre-half and has impressed me. So I decided on my three centre-halves and Rio wasn't one of them."
Ferdinand tweeted on Wednesday night: "Absolutely loved playing for england....to say I'm gutted is an understatement of the highest order…"
The inclusion of Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has made only six league starts for Arsenal since last summer's £12m move from Southampton, represented the most eye-catching selection, while Carroll benefited from his performances for Liverpool over the final few weeks of an otherwise disappointing season. Norwich City's Ruddy, who is due to get married on 2 June when England play Belgium at Wembley and will be excused from that friendly, is third-choice goalkeeper.
Hodgson will continue to monitor Scott Parker's recovery from an achilles problem that necessitated an injection on Monday. Whether that his treatment proves successful will only become clear nearer to the squad get-together even if the player is confident he will be fit and available to play in his first tournament. Phil Jagielka and Jordan Henderson are among those on standby. "I may still have a call to make on that one if it's looking dubious," he said. "Do I take the risk and hope for the best? Or do I say: 'Sorry, I have to remove you.' But I'm very optimistic that won't happen."
Another potential option, Michael Carrick, was not considered after the 30-year-old had asked not to be included if he was to play only a bit-part role. Carrick is effectively now retired from international football, though he would be available in extremis in future if required. "Michael had made it clear in the past he didn't want to be involved [as a fringe player]," Hodgson said. "As it is, I'd have to be convinced he was better than the four I've selected, and that he'd be happy to come out of retirement, if he was to be considered."
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