Tag Archives: focus

Sol Campbell says England caps are handed out too easily

Easy caps are costing England: Former defender Campbell says players are not earning their international call-ups

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UPDATED:

12:58 GMT, 22 December 2012

Former England defender Sol Campbell believes the country are failing at international level because too many players are being capped too young.

Campbell, who won 73 England caps, says that too many players receive an international call up before they have established themselves at club level.

Campbell completed three full seasons at Tottenham before earning his first cap in 1996.

Earning his caps: Sol Campbell played for three seasons at Spurs before getting his first England cap and says players get them too easily today

Earning his caps: Sol Campbell played for three seasons at Spurs before getting his first England cap and says players get them too easily today

Speaking on Football Focus, Campbell said: 'Some of the young players have got their England careers far too early.

'It's far too easy for players who have not done much in the game to play for their country, it all connects and that's why results aren't going so well.

'When I started, I had to play top football for 18 months before I could get a look-in.

Earning his place: Campbell trained with the England squad before he was capped in 1996

Earning his place: Campbell trained with the England squad before he was capped in 1996

'Yes, I was in with the England side earlier than that but just training with the team and then I'd go back with the Under 21s.

'Now it seems like if you've played a
few games, scored a few goals, cleared a few balls off the line and
threaded a couple of really good balls in, all of a sudden you're in the
England side.'

Wilfried Zaha

Jonjo Shelvey

Too much, too young Wilfried Zaha and Jonjo Shelvey have been capped by England this year

ENGLAND'S 2012 DEBUTANTS
Fraizer Campbell (Sunderland, age 25)Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal, 19)Martin Kelly (Liverpool, 22)Jack Butland (Birmingham, 19)Tom Cleverley (Manchester United, 23)John Ruddy (Norwich, 26)Jake Livermore (Tottenham, 23)Ryan Bertrand (Chelsea, 23)Jonjo Shelvey (Liverpool, 20)Steven Caulker (Tottenham, 21)Raheem Sterling (Liverpool, 18)Leon Osman (Everton, 31)Ryan Shawcross (Stoke, 25)Carl Jenkinson (Arsenal, 20)Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace, 20)

Campbell was
part of the squad that reached the Euro 96 semi-finals and also played
at the 1998, 2002 and 2006 World Cups, as well as the Euros in 2000 and
2004.

And in the year Campbell made his England debut, seven other players – Robbie Fowler, Jason Wilcox, Ian Walker, Phil Neville, Ugo Ehiogu, David Beckham and Andy Hinchcliffe – also won their first caps.

This year saw debuts handed to 15 players, most of whom had little – and some no – Premier League experience.

'I still feel playing for your country is the number one,’ said Campbell, who won two Premier League titles and two FA Cups with Arsenal, and also scored in the 2006 Champions League final.

'When players get to England they need to be playing at the top of their game, but some have been getting in the England squad when they're not even in their club side, and that is not right.

'You're believing you're at the top because you play for England, but you're not. Then obviously the results [follow] from there.'

Andres Iniesta: Secret to Barcelona"s success – constant evolution

Football perfection Impossible. Constant evolution is secret of Barcelona's success

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UPDATED:

09:48 GMT, 21 December 2012

Barcelona star Andres Iniesta believes football perfection is impossible to attain and that instead his team focus on evolving every year.

The midfield magician, who is up for the this year’s FIFA's Ballon d'Or award against superstars Leonel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, says improvement not perfection is the aim of the squad at the Nou Camp.

Speaking to BBC's Football Focus programme, the 28-year-old said: 'There is no such thing as the perfect player. Everyone can improve and things can be done better. I rate myself as someone who enjoys the learning process and someone who tries to be better every year.

Team ethic: Iniesta believes football perfection is impossible

Team ethic: Iniesta believes football perfection is impossible

'Perfection doesn't exist. There are players who are close but it is almost impossible to be perfect. If that was the case there wouldn’t be evolution in football.

'I don't consider myself a star. I consider myself a footballer who tries to improve myself by doing things well. What really makes me happy is when I feel I've improved at the end of each year and I hope this feeling can go on and on.'

Iniesta is a key part of the record-breaking Barcelona and Spanish national team that has won both the World Cup and last two European Champions and completed another year at the top of the FIFA world rankings.

United front: Iniesta was among the players present at the press conference where boss Tito Vilanova's cancer relapse was announced

United front: Iniesta was among the players present at the press conference where boss Tito Vilanova's cancer relapse was announced

United front: Iniesta was among the players present at the press conference where boss Tito Vilanova's cancer relapse was announced

Barcelona announced on Thursday that Tito Vilanova’s operation on his parotid gland had gone 'as expected' as the 44-year-old began a second battle with cancer.

Vilanova, who also had a tumour removed from his throat in November last year, will now start six weeks of chemotherapy.

In a statement, the club said: 'Vilanova’s surgical procedure has gone as expected. His clinical progress will determine how long he remains in hospital.

'The expected timeframe has been maintained. Tito asks for his privacy and confidentiality to be respected.'

Gold standard: Iniesta was among the Ballon D'Or nominees

Gold standard: Iniesta was among the Ballon D'Or nominees

You can watch the full interview on Saturday at 12.15pm on BBC One.

Artificial pitches are coming to Rugby Union

Fantastic plastic will end the winter mudbaths for the better, despite what traditionalists might say

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UPDATED:

00:19 GMT, 21 December 2012

Those ‘traditionalists’ who are permanently up in arms about any change to the precious status quo have a prime new focus for concern and complaint.

Artificial pitches are coming.

The purists will have a field day, so to speak.

There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth when Saracens take their place at the vanguard of the revolution by moving to Allianz Park, their new home in Barnet, next month.

A thing of the past: Mudbaths of the like which led to this famous image of Fran Cotton will become a thing of the past when artificial pitches are brought into rugby union

A thing of the past: Mudbaths of the like which led to this famous image of Fran Cotton will become a thing of the past when artificial pitches are brought into rugby union

There they will play on a synthetic surface, which will also be available to the community.

It has emerged that Wales are considering the use of artificial turf at the Millennium Stadium, where there have been endless problems with the grass.

No doubt, the prospect of Tests being played on a hi-tech, all-weather carpet will crank up the traditionalists’ anger still further.

Such resistance is absurd. This is positive progress, not something that betrays the heritage of the sport.

Much of the opposition is based on the out-dated notion of so-called ‘plastic pitches’ being dangerous.

But the state-of-the-art surfaces, with grass yarn laid on rubber, are far removed from old-fashioned Astroturf.

Pioneers: Saracens will have an artificial pitch when they move to their new home, Allianz Park in Barnet, next month

Pioneers: Saracens will have an artificial pitch when they move to their new home, Allianz Park in Barnet, next month

They have been heavily tested and
declared safe. Improved grip means less danger of scrum collapses, which
in turn reduces a major source of serious injury.

Part
of the argument against this innovation is that teams must deal with
what the forces of nature throw at them. Well, this is Britain, so there
is plenty of rain and wind to keep rugby real.

And
if games at the Millennium Stadium end up being played under a closed
roof, on a fake grass pitch, as if in a vacuum, this column has no
complaints.

The most talented players will still manage to stand apart, even if basic skills are easier to perform.

Let’s
face it, no-one has ever gone to a match in the hope of seeing slips
and knock-ons. The end of winter mud-baths leading to stodgy contests
wouldn’t be lamented here.

Six Nations winners Wales are considering artificial turf at the Millennium Stadium

Six Nations winners Wales are considering artificial turf at the Millennium Stadium

The
iconic picture of Fran Cotton looking like a creature from the swamps
would serve as an image of a historical reference point.

If summer rugby is not on the agenda (more’s the pity) then these durable, consistent surfaces represent a compromise.

Traditionalists
presumably still pine for heavy, cotton shirts and heavy, leather
balls, not to mention rotund props who can’t run and have to perform a
forfeit if they actually throw a pass.

Move on — the game is changing, for the better in this case.

More from Chris Foy…

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25/10/12

Chris Foy: More referees will follow Lawrence's example and quit if this hounding goes on
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Chris Foy: Let's play! Time for TV war to take a back seat as the Heineken Cup returns
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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Quote of the week

Brian O’Driscoll on his lifestyle changes: ‘I have the T-shirt from going out in my twenties, I don’t go out nearly as much as I used to. You get to a point where your life and family situation dictates certain things and you are just content in living that way.

As a 22-year-old you look at guys like me now — 32-33 — and you say, “Jeesus, settled down and married, I couldn’t imagine anything worse”. But I look at the 22-year-olds now and I say, “You can keep your wild lifestyle”. I have been there, lived it, enjoyed it, but you just shelve that. God forbid, it’s dinner parties I go to now, not nightclubs!’

Sarries out of tune with Munster

While the bold step of installing an artificial pitch illustrates the best of Saracens, what happened in Watford last weekend showed the club in a much dimmer light.

Those who were at Vicarage Road for the visit of Munster will not forget the Tannoy torture in a hurry.

With a huge contingent of away fans in attendance and in fine voice, as ever, a conscious decision was made to dilute their impact on proceedings by blaring out the awful ‘Stand up for the Saracens’ over the public-address system.

Saracens will have artificial turf when they move to their new home, Allianz Park next month

New feel: Saracens will have artificial turf when they move to their new home, Allianz Park next month

That one, grating line was repeated perhaps a thousand times during the game — often cynically played louder if Munster fans were singing.

It didn’t just ruin their experience, it also antagonised many home fans too, judging by angry comments on the club’s website.

Saracens don’t have enough loyal supporters to alienate the ones they do have. This was a terrible error of judgment and must not be repeated.

In addition, the authorities should ban this barrage of music while the game is taking place. Before, after and at half-time is fine, but not during.

New man at the helm: Scott Johnson

New man at the helm: Scott Johnson

The last word

There must be something sensational on Scott Johnson’s c.v., some startling revelations which apparently prove to prospective employers that he is capable of wizardry. Either that, or he’s just a master at talking himself into top jobs.

The Australian has been installed as Scotland’s interim head coach, based on his ‘wealth of experience of international rugby’. Well, he worked in the Wales set-up under Graham Henry, Steve Hansen and Mike Ruddock, but was widely implicated in the latter coach’s abrupt exit.

After an abortive stint in charge, Johnson drifted home to act as assistant to the Wallabies. Then he had a brief stint with the USA, and a colourful period of mixed fortunes as Ospreys director of coaching before joining Scotland.

To this day, he is perhaps best known for referring to New Zealand as ‘a poxy little island in the south Pacific’ — which is telling in itself. It may be in Scotland’s best long-term interests if the Six Nations is an unmitigated disaster.

Chris Froome says he is Team Sky"s main Tour de France rider ahead of Bradley Wiggins

Froome convinced he will be Team Sky's main man for Tour de France bid ahead of Wiggins

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UPDATED:

01:28 GMT, 18 December 2012

Chris Froome believes that he and not newly crowned Sports Personality of the Year Bradley Wiggins will be the main man in Team Sky's bid to win next year's Tour de France.

Froome, who sacrificed his chances in the 2012 Tour to support Wiggins, claims he has the endorsement of team director Dave Brailsford.

He told The Times: 'The team are saying they are going to back me with the Tour this year. That is directly from Dave.

Main man: Chris Froome (left) says he will be Team Sky's focus for the Tour

Main man: Chris Froome (left) says he will be Team Sky's focus for the Tour

No clues: Dave Brailsford remained on the fence

No clues: Dave Brailsford remained on the fence

'He said, “You're our main man for the Tour. Focus on it”. I am already following a programme building for the Tour with that as my core focus.'

Brailsford last night suggested the decision on which rider Sky will back had not yet been made.

He said: 'At the moment Chris is going full gas for the Tour and Brad is going there by a different route and we will see when they get there.

'The guys will be trying to be the best they can be. We will see what condition they are in. The legs will do the talking.'

Froome and Wiggins have an unsettled relationship – they do not mix socially and the doubt about which of them will be lead rider in 2013 is sure to cause more friction.

Wiggins made it clear after collecting his BBC award that he wants the chance to defend his Tour title.

In his book Wiggins suggested that he could not fully trust his team-mate.

'I think that’s sad,' said Froome. 'I will always do the job asked of me.

Sad: Froome was unimpressed at Wiggins suggesting he did not trust him

Sad: Froome was unimpressed at Wiggins suggesting he did not trust him

'We definitely have to rely on each other and I think Brad knows that he can rely on me to do the job. Despite everything said, I stuck by him in the Tour.

'I looked after him to the end. He’s more than professional enough to do the same for me.'

Premier League fans shouldn"t be treated like animals, says Vincent Kompany

Fans aren't animals! Kompany dismisses calls for netting at Premier League stadiums

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UPDATED:

11:00 GMT, 14 December 2012

Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany has urged the football authorities not to treat supporters like animals by erecting netting in front of them at stadia in the Barclays Premier League.

Kompany was at City’s Etihad Stadium as Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand was struck with a coin at the end of last weekend’s derby game.

That incident prompted calls for nets to be erected in certain areas at grounds across the country to protect players from missiles.

Missiles: Manchester United players, including Rio Ferdinand, were pelted with missiles as they celebrated their late win in the derby at the Etihad Stadium

Missiles: Manchester United players, including Rio Ferdinand, were pelted with missiles as they celebrated their late win in the derby at the Etihad Stadium

No net gains: Vincent Kompany doesn't want to see fans fenced in at stadiums

No net gains: Vincent Kompany doesn't want to see fans fenced in at stadiums

But Belgian defender Kompany said: 'I hope actions will be taken but let’s not forget where football has come from and how far it has come.

'It is never a good thing to happen, not just for Manchester City or Manchester United, but for football.

'I would definitely say we need action on prevention but keep treating fans as human beings and not animals that have to be behind cages.

'I do think we should take action against these incidents and I have heard a lot of suggestions about putting up nets and everything.

'But the fact we are able to put people outside of cages is something that makes the English game so much more special.'

Kompany – who is fighting to recover from injury in time for Saturday's visit to Newcastle – was speaking to BBC’s Football Focus during City’s annual visit to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.

Dan Walker primed to replace Gary Lineker as Match of the Day presenter

Rising star Walker handed Match of the Day presenting role

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UPDATED:

13:16 GMT, 5 December 2012

Rising star: BBC presenter Dan Walker

Rising star: Dan Walker

One of the BBC's rising stars has moved in to pole position as a future Match of the Day presenter after being handed the job on a one-off basis later this month.

The future of the MOTD line-up has been the subject of much debate this season with some observers commenting that the format of the BBC's flagship highlights show is beginning to look a little jaded.

Now it has emerged that Football Focus presenter Dan Walker will sit in for regular host Gary Lineker a week on Saturday when the former England striker is absent for personal reasons.

Walker, aged 35, is highly-rated at the BBC, having come through the ranks on local TV before moving on to national prime-time slots a few years ago.

Having previously worked at the Olympics, Wimbledon, The Open, Ascot and the last World Cup, the Crawley Town fan is seen as one of the corporation's mainstays of the future and has been presenting Football Focus since 2009.

But Walker will not anchor the MOTD 2 highlights programme as the devout Christian refuses to work on a Sunday.

Popular: Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker

Popular: Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker

There is no suggestion that there is any threat to Lineker's position.

Lineker, who has been linked with BT's new sports channel after they paid 738m to screen 38 Premier League matches from 2013, remains highly thought-of by the BBC and most public discussion recently has been about the quality of the guest pundits.

Arsenal ace Jack Wilshere: England selection is massive confidence booster

England call-up is a massive boost for my confidence, says Arsenal ace Wilshere

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UPDATED:

15:56 GMT, 9 November 2012

Jack Wilshere has described his hunger to get back into the game during his 17-month injury lay-off and his gratitude to England manager Roy Hodgson for giving him his confidence back by picking him.

In an exclusive interview that will appear in full in Saturday's Daily Mail, the Arsenal midfielder reveals how much he missed football while he was forced to watch Arsenal from the sidelines.

'I'm grateful to Roy for picking me,' said Wilshere. 'That's just a massive confidence boost to know you're part of his plans.

On the ball: Wilshere's exclusive interview will appear in Saturday's Daily Mail

On the ball: Wilshere's exclusive interview will appear in Saturday's Daily Mail

'I missed so much football that I just want to play every game now. When I was left out of the Capital One Cup game I was gutted because I really wanted to play but I've got to be sensible.'

The 20-year-old has only just returned to action with Arsenal but was picked in the senior national squad for next week's friendly in Sweden.

In an interview with BBC's Football Focus, Wilshere said: 'Maybe it is a bit too soon (to be called up) because I have only played three games since I have been back.

Lukas Podolski and Jack Wilshere

Jack Wilshere

Confident: Wilshere is pleased he's been picked by Hodgson for England's friendly with Sweden

'But it is great for my head and my confidence to know I am in the new manager's plans.

'The last time I played for England was under Fabio Capello and now there is a new manager and staff, so I did not know the thinking of the new tactics – would I fit in Am I in their plans

'To know now the manager has picked me and he is looking at me for the team is good for me.'

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger would rather his player – who is suspended for Saturday's Barclays Premier League game with Fulham after his red card at Manchester United – had not been involved at all in the Stockholm friendly.

However, the Frenchman accepted there was little he could do to prevent the call-up, although it is understood a compromise has been reached to only give Wilshere a maximum of 45 minutes of action.

Wilshere has experienced niggling injuries which stem back to an ankle problem initially suffered when winning his fifth cap against Switzerland at Wembley in June 2011, but is now relishing the challenges ahead as England look to secure a place at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

'It is a new chapter for me in my football career, the last time I played for England was 17 months ago. now everyone can see there is a different style of play,' he added.

'For my confidence it is nice to be picked and know I am in the new manager's plans. 'There are a lot of young players in there now, which is great for me.

'I played with the likes of Tom Cleverley and Chris Smalling in the under-21s and to see them breaking into the first team now is good for the future.'

Alan Shearer open to Blackburn approach

Shearer open to Blackburn approach as search for Kean's successor goes on

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UPDATED:

13:01 GMT, 6 October 2012

Alan Shearer has admitted he is open to the possibility of taking up the vacant manager's role at Blackburn.

The former Rovers striker, who had a short spell in management with Newcastle, spent 10 years at Ewood Park as a player.

When asked about his interest in the job, the 42-year-old told BBC's Football Focus: 'I've not spoken to the Blackburn owners. If they approached me I would speak to them.'

Call me: Alan Shearer has admitted he's keen to replace Steve at Blackburn

Call me: Alan Shearer has admitted he's keen to replace Steve at Blackburn

The npower Championship outfit have been without a manager since Steve Kean's decision to resign at the end of September, saying in a statement that his position had become 'untenable'.

Owners Venky's have attracted criticism for their running of the club but Rovers are among the early pace-setters in the Championship, occupying a play-off place ahead of today's home match against Wolves.

Shearer's spell in charge of Newcastle ended in relegation from the Barclays Premier League after they took just five points from his eight games at the helm.

Jenson Button welcomes Sergio Perez to McLaren

Button presses claim for more titles as he welcomes new boy Perez to McLaren ranks

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 5 October 2012

Having taken on and beaten Lewis Hamilton last season, Jenson Button has already turned his attention to the challenge he will face from new boy Sergio Perez at McLaren.

'It made me smile because I love margaritas and sombreros,' quipped Button regarding the arrival of his Mexican team-mate for next season.

'There's a good picture of me somewhere wearing a sombrero and not much else!'

Main man: Jenson Button wants to push for more titles since the departure of Lewis Hamilton

Main man: Jenson Button wants to push for more titles since the departure of Lewis Hamilton

Speaking ahead of Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix – his chances of a second successive victory dented by a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change – Button is clearly anticipating some knockabout fun with Perez and hopefully more success after finishing ahead of Hamilton in last year's drivers' championship.

'For the amount of time I have spent with Sergio, he seems a funny guy and I like his attitude,' said Button.

Equally, however, Button is aware that making sure he is not eclipsed by the new arrival from Sauber is no laughing matter.

Being beaten by a world champion in the shape of Hamilton is one thing, losing out to a 22-year-old with only two years' experience is quite another.

'I think he is quick, intelligent and willing to learn,' said Button. 'Having just one experienced person in the team changes things but that is something I love. It is fun racing with new team-mates.

'He is inexperienced compared with Lewis and it will be his first year, but he will still be quick, I think.

'There should be more consistency in the following year but I will definitely be the person McLaren turn to if they want a world champion next year.'

I'm off: Hamilton left McLaren to join Mercedes

I'm off: Hamilton left McLaren to join Mercedes

Focus: Button is committed to taking the title again with McLaren

Focus: Button is committed to taking the title again with McLaren

Perez is likely to have his own thoughts on that while McLaren have vowed that their new driver pairing will enjoy equal status.

There is no doubt, however, that the greater responsibility to deliver race wins rests on Button's shoulders following Hamilton's switch to Mercedes.

It is a decision Button respects; after all, Mercedes were born out of Brawn with whom he won his title in 2009. Even so, he finds Hamilton's choice difficult to fathom.

'I am surprised he is leaving but we all have different things we want to achieve,' said Button.

'For Lewis, I think he feels he needs a new challenge and, fair enough, that is his choice.

'But for me, being at McLaren for three seasons, and nowhere near retiring or stopping racing for this team, puts a smile on my face.

'I love racing in Formula One and I am with a team that can fight for wins, unlike most others on the grid.

New kid on the block: Sergio Perez will leave Sauber to join Button at McLaren

New kid on the block: Sergio Perez will leave Sauber to join Button at McLaren

'I came in here not really knowing what to expect, coming to a brand new team after seven years racing for one team.

'I really had to find my feet again after being so long with one team.

'But I feel very at home here and I can't see me racing anywhere else in my career.

'I am looking to challenge everyone next year – not just Lewis.

'You always want to beat your team-mate, it is one of the most important goals for a Formula One driver. If you are alongside your team-mate going into turn one, you don't back out, you still give it your all.'

Now that Button feels he is the main man at McLaren he clearly has no intention of losing that hard-earned status to Perez, on or off the track.

Welcome aboard Sergio. You have been warned.

Track guide

Rio Ferdinand back in Manchester United training after Roy Hodgson tube gaffe

Ferdinand all smiles in United training after apology from Hodgson over tube gaffe

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UPDATED:

11:36 GMT, 5 October 2012

Rio Ferdinand was upbeat as he trained with Manchester United on Friday morning after accepting Roy Hodgson's apology for the tube gaffe.

England boss Hodgson told
punters on a London tube train that the defender
wouldn't make his current squad.

Pointing the way: Rio Ferdinand smiles during training at Carrington on Friday morning

Pointing the way: Rio Ferdinand smiles during training at Carrington on Friday morning

Preparations: Ferdinand is expected to play at the heart of United's defence at Newcastle

Preparations: Ferdinand is expected to play at the heart of United's defence at Newcastle

Ferdinand was hoping for an international recall after John Terry's retirement amid his hearing into his racist abuse at Rio's brother Anton.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson will now hope his player's focus will return to the pitch as they prepare for Sunday's match at Newcastle.

Ferdinand is better off without England, according to former Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp.

Redknapp doesn't think this is really a bad thing for the 33-year-old, telling The Sun: 'At this time of his life, does Rio really need trips with England

Fun and games: Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney share a joke in training

Fun and games: Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney share a joke in training

On the ball: Jonny Evans dives in as Ryan Giggs and Darren Fletcher look on

On the ball: Jonny Evans dives in as Ryan Giggs and Darren Fletcher look on

'I don’t think he needs all that aggro any more. He still has a couple of years left in him at the very top level — maybe more if he is not playing for England.

'And if he’s not wanted then he shouldn’t waste his time even thinking about England.

'Concentrate on playing for your club. Focus on that and he probably won’t miss England.

'He’s not exactly been a regular for a while now and has had his injuries.

'Were Rio in his prime then this would be a bombshell. But Rio should listen to his body.'

Ferdinand was criticised for his performance after last weekend's match against Tottenham.

But Redknapp hit back, saying: 'He has been called slow. Don’t be ridiculous.

'Rio could still take most players over 20 yards but in Gareth Bale he was up against the Usain Bolt of English football.'