Rio Ferdinand to the rescue: Should Roy Hodgson name Manchester United defender in England squad

Rio to the rescue: Is it time for Roy to bring back Ferdinand for England Keown, Redknapp and Sportsmail's team of experts have their say

PUBLISHED:

10:46 GMT, 13 March 2013

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UPDATED:

11:00 GMT, 13 March 2013

Roy Hodgson is set to name his England squad for the World Cup qualifying matches against San Marino and Montenegro and fans are desperate to know if Rio Ferdinand will be in it.

Left out for 'football reasons', Ferdinand has not featured for the national team under Hodgson but, with former captain John Terry now out of the picture, he has been touted for a return.

The 34-year-old has been superb for Manchester United this season and here, Sportsmail's team of experts say whether they feel Ferdinand should take that form back on to the international stage.

Solid: Rio Ferdinand has been tipped for an England return after fine performances for Manchester United

Solid: Rio Ferdinand has been tipped for an England return after fine performances for Manchester United

MARTIN KEOWN

I would bring Rio Ferdinand back into the England squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers. If Sir Alex Ferguson is picking him as his first-choice centre back for Manchester United, that is good enough for me.

Roy Hodgson is one of the only people who could get away with bringing someone back after not picking them for so long. Hodgson is such a nice man and would find the words to make it a smooth transition.

Ferdinand has every right to feel he should have been in recent squads and he’s the best central defender we have. On top of that, Phil Jagielka is out injured and Gary Cahill has suffered a dip in form. He would benefit from playing alongside some as experienced as Ferdinand.

Tiredness is less of a factor now that United are out the Champions League. Ferdinand has fewer matches to play between now and the end of the season than he would have expected so Ferguson should not have a problem with him playing for his country.

I would imagine Hodgson wouldn’t use him for both games because of the recovery time he needs and the only potential problem with that is whether it creates instability in the team. If someone else plays well against San Marino, do you kill their confidence by then dropping them

The answer is probably yes.

Young gun: Ferdinand made his England debut as a teenager - coming off the bench against Cameroon in 1997

Young gun: Ferdinand made his England debut as a teenager – coming off the bench against Cameroon in 1997

JAMIE REDKNAPP

What has he done wrong He seems to have handled his omission maturely… he lost the England captaincy and didn’t cause a fuss. He has played his way back into form. He wants to play for England and add to his 81 caps.

Judging him on ‘football reasons’, he has to be back in for the World Cup qualifiers, doesn’t he Montenegro is a challenge and their centre-forward, the Juventus striker, Mirko Vucinic is a handful as he proved to Celtic in the Champions League. But Rio has handled better strikers.

Okay, he is not the future, but he is the present.

MARK ALFORD

No. Stick by your footballing
reasons, Roy. I'd prefer it if you further explained them to us all, but
as I suspect your argument is that you're building a side – and
specifically a defence – that can win us the World Cup, please go ahead
and conquer. Rio's too old. Yes, he can still pick a pass and play but
he's past his best. He's lost a yard and that's what matters at
international level. In Roy, we trust… There's no other way.

Off the mark: Ferdinand (No 5) scored his first international goal against Denmark at the 2002 World Cup

Off the mark: Ferdinand (No 5) scored his first international goal against Denmark at the 2002 World Cup

Off the mark: Ferdinand (No 5) scored his first international goal against Denmark at the 2002 World Cup

NEIL ASHTON

Yes. He remains the outstanding England defender of his generation. If he can get two games against Real Madrid in the Champions League, he can play against San Marino and Montenegro in the World Cup qualifiers.

LEE CLAYTON

Yes. Pick your best players, qualify for the World Cup, then worry about his age, his ability to play back-to-back games in a short space of time and the future.

There is a risk that England’s future will be an end-of-season tour to the back of beyond while the World Cup is taking place in Brazil. We did that before, let’s not do it again.

Rio must play in Montenegro. What’s to discuss

CHRIS WHEELER

Yes. Forget his age, any personal
issues with the manager and the fact that he might not be the best man
for the job when the World Cup comes around. Ferdinand's performances
for Manchester United this season have proved he's still a defender of
the highest quality. That's all that matters so just go ahead and pick
him.

SAMI MOKBEL

Yes. Simply because he is without doubt one of the best four centre-backs available to Roy Hodgson.

It's been a while: Ferdinand's last England appearance was against Switzerland in June 2011

It's been a while: Ferdinand's last England appearance was against Switzerland in June 2011

DOMINIC KING

No. Roy Hodgson has made his decision
to preclude Ferdinand from international duty, so he should stick with
it. There is sufficient quality in the England team to negotiate a
tricky task without worrying about whether Ferdinand should play or not.
With Phil Jagielka injured, play Joleon Lescott and give the in-form
Michael Dawson a go. Ferdinand is England's past, concentrate on the
future.

NEIL MOXLEY

If he’s the best English player to fill the position – and I think he’s the best option at present – then of course he should be picked. I’m not one for ‘looking to the future.’ It’s a nebulous managerial cop-out. When is ‘the future’ What about the here and now

He’s fit, playing well and wants to resume his international career. What, really, is there to consider

On the box: Kelloggs made special cereal packets for the 2010 World Cup but Ferdinand missed the tournament through injury

On the box: Kelloggs made special cereal packets for the 2010 World Cup but Ferdinand missed the tournament through injury

JOHN EDWARDS

If he doesn’t, then ‘football
reasons’ will no longer wash as an explanation. With John Terry out of
the frame and Phil Jagielka and Chris Smalling injured, there is only
one logical choice alongside Gary Cahill.

Hodgson is to be applauded for
looking to the future, but there is a time and place for experimenting
with potential. A World Cup qualifier away to the group leaders is
neither. That rules out Steven Caulker, while the likes of Ryan
Shawcross, Michael Dawson and Joleon Lescott lack Ferdinand’s proven
pedigree when the international stakes are at their highest.

The San Marino game should be plain sailing, whoever gets the nod, but for 90 minutes in Montenegro, it has to be Rio.

ALEX KAY

Of course he should. Ferdinand is the
best English centre back around at the moment and knows how to keep his
head in big games. Also, the alternatives do not fill you with hope:
Joleon Lescott is in and out the team at Manchester City, Gary Cahill
has a wobble in him and Michael Dawson, though playing well, hasn’t
featured for England for a long time.

MIKE ANSTEAD

If
he’s good enough, then yes. With John Terry out of the picture, England
are seriously lacking top-level experience at the back – Gary Cahill,
Phil Jagielka and Co won’t worry the world’s best. Bring Rio back and
he’s still got time to forge a new partnership ahead of Brazil 2014.

TOM BELLWOOD

No. His inclusion would represent a kick in the teeth to those whose performances warrant place in the team and have a long-term future in the national set-up.

LAURIE WHITWELL

Yes. Ferdinand is by some margin the best English central defender playing regularly. He is managing his body well this season and is a major reason United's defence has tightened up in the second part of the campaign. The experience he brings to international football only adds to the compelling reasoning for selection. Surely you pick the best players on offer at any one point rather than worry about a future that is yet to be achieved.

DAN RIPLEY

Judging by Ferdinand’s current form and fitness, the Manchester United centre-back certainly deserves a recall to the England squad. His composure on the ball and experience would be a key asset to a Three Lions side that has yet to have a stable back four under Roy Hodgson’s reign. At 34-years-old Ferdinand isn’t the future, but Hodgson needs to pick a squad that can pick up two wins later this month, not one that is likely to lead England after Brazil 2014.

Decision time: Roy Hodgson is set to name his England squad to face San Marino and Montenegro

Decision time: Roy Hodgson is set to name his England squad to face San Marino and Montenegro

JOE RIDGE

Yes. It's crazy we're even asking this question. Along with Michael Dawson and Gary Cahill he's the only Englishman playing regularly at centre back for a top four club – and he's still head and shoulders above those two.
SUNNI UPAL

No. Ferdinand is 34 so it would make no sense going back to him considering he will be 35 by the time the World Cup kicks off next year. England have enough choices in defence and don’t need to turn back to someone who is in the twilight of his career. The decision was, rightly or wrongly, made a long time ago for ‘footballing reasons’ so let’s just stick to those reasons and move on.

Not spoiled for choice: Gary Cahill's form has dipped while Phil Jagielka (below left) is struggling with injury

Not spoiled for choice: Gary Cahill's form has dipped while Phil Jagielka (below left) is struggling with injury

Struggling: Phil Jagielka (left)

RIK SHARMA

No. Picking a defender who probably won't be worth taking to the World Cup itself would only be acceptable if qualification for said competition would be viewed as an achievement. For England it is a necessity. Roy needs to focus on the men for the years ahead.

DECLAN WARRINGTON

No, and particularly not if Hodgson intends on using him for no more than just the next two games. Despite his decline, Ferdinand remains a polished defender and has lately impressed but he's had another inconsistent season in which Manchester United have frequently conceded. Hodgson needs to look at the bigger picture and build a new-look side: in Gary Cahill, Steven Caulker, Phil Jones and particularly Chris Smalling he has several improving, quality options who are already good but need time to develop partnerships for the World Cup. He should stick with them.

BILL RUNGAY

Yes. Age is not an obstacle. He is on track to winning an inevitable sixth Premier League title along with his first FA cup medal whilst showing he is still one of the most solid defenders in the game.

Old head: Veteran defender Ferdinand has the experience of 10 years at United and 81 England caps

Old head: Veteran defender Ferdinand has the experience of 10 years at United and 81 England caps