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Rio signals England career at end
Rio Ferdinand appears to have brought down the curtain on his England career.
The 33-year-old was left out of Roy Hodgson's Euro 2012 squad on Wednesday, a decision which the new manager insisted was made purely for footballing reasons.
The defender used Twitter to speak of his international career in the past tense. "Absolutely loved playing for England," he said. "To say I am gutted is an understatement of the highest order."
Given his age, long-standing back problems and the emergence of players such as Manchester United team-mates Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, who missed out on selection due to injury, there seems to be no way back for Ferdinand.
Hodgson repeatedly insisted the decision had nothing to do with the potential for conflict between Ferdinand and John Terry, who has been selected. Nor did he blame United manager Sir Alex Ferguson's observation last week that the £29.1million man was unable to play twice in four days due to his back complaint.
"Are we ever getting off Rio Ferdinand?" said Hodgson. "There are 23 men in the squad and yet we're discussing one man until the cows come home. The football reasons are quite simple. I wanted seven defenders, with Phil Jones in the squad. I decided on my three centre-backs and Rio wasn't one of them."
It is bound to be galling for Ferdinand that he misses out while Terry will be central to Hodgson's plans despite facing a court case this summer over the allegation he racially abused the United defender's brother, QPR's Anton Ferdinand.
Not even the possible scenario of the FA having to protest against any racism experienced by players and supporters in Ukraine, while at the same time having Terry in the squad, could deter Hodgson from including the Chelsea skipper.
"There's no doubt that the issue of racism in Ukraine is a concern for us all, not least the supporters who go over there and risk maybe getting beaten up, or if they happen not maybe to be white, subjected to a lot of abuse," said Hodgson.
"But I'm convinced that John Terry is a person who will be able to handle these matters. Basically, I wanted to take a group of players that gives us a chance of doing well in the tournament."