'Rio returns': Ferdinand recalled to England squad for World Cup qualifiers
Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has been recalled to the England squad by boss Roy Hodgson.
The player is back with the national side for the World Cup qualifier matches against San Marino and Montenegro later this month.
He hasn’t played for England since June 2011 and was overlooked by Hodgson for Euro 2012.
The boss cited “footballing reasons” for Ferdinand's exclusion in his squad for the Euro 2012 finals and he has remained out of his plans ever since.
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Hodgson said today: “I’ve been following Rio for a long time now, he’s playing well and his team are playing well and he deserves it.
“I’m convinced he can help us win these two matches. You bring players like Rio in to make the team better and give you a better chance.
“If Rio Ferdinand is still playing like he is now in 2014 he will be a major candidate for (World Cup) squad.”
The boss admitted he has not spoken to Ferdinand but is hopeful he will accept his recall to the England squad.
Watch a replay of Roy Hodgson's press conference here:
Ferdinand, 34, won the last of his 81 caps against Switzerland at Wembley in June 2011 in a Euro 2012 qualifier.
His return comes at a time when Everton's Phil Jagielka is sidelined with an ankle injury and Joleon Lescott has only a bit-part role at Manchester City.
There are also concerns over the form of Chelsea's Gary Cahill.
West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster has also been recalled after reversing his decision to retire from international football, and there are call-ups for Tottenham Hotspur pair Scott Parker and Michael Dawson.
The squad also features Ashley Cole, but Hodgson said he does not anticipate there being any issues between him and Ferdinand.
Twitter users have been discussing the news, prompting #England to trend on the social networking site.
User @LJeremy10 wrote: “Ferdinand back in the England squad #deserved best defender in England”.
And @calvinlindsay89 said: “Good to see @rioferdy5 back in the England squad. Still the best English CB.”
Meanwhile @Dwright525 said: “Dont know how @rioferdy5 can be picked for England ahead of Kelvin Wilson who has been class for celtic all year. Congrats to @FraseForster”.
And @Think_Football tweeted: “Is it just me that thinks that this is a pretty average England squad?”
Goalkeepers: Ben Foster, Joe Hart, Fraser Forster.
Defenders: Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Michael Dawson, Rio Ferdinand, Glen Johnson, Chris Smalling, Kyle Walker.
Midfielders: Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Aaron Lennon, James Milner, Leon Osman, Scott Parker, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Ashley Young.
Forwards: Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Daniel Welbeck.