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France coach Laurent Blanc 'surprised' at Rio Ferdinand's omission from Roy Hodgson's England squad

FRANCE coach Laurent Blanc has wasted no time in attempting to gain an advantage over England and has expressed his surprise at Rio Ferdinand's omission.

The former centre-back who played with Ferdinand at Manchester United told the media on Thursday - four days before the two countries go head to head at the Dombass Arena in Donetsk in the opening Group D game at the European Championships - that he is further baffled that England manager Roy Hodgson has not opted to select the 81-cap veteran given the squad's lack of fit defenders.

The 46 year-old said: "I think Rio Ferdinand is a very good player, even though he might be coming to the end of his career. But it's true that it was surprising not to see him picked given all the injuries they had in that sector. But I'm not in [Hodgson's] position."

Hodgson insists Ferdinand was left out of the initial 23-man squad for "football reasons" and not over concerns he couldn't play with John Terry, who is facing trial for allegedly racially abusing Ferdinand's brother, Anton, the Queens Park Rangers defender.

After Gary Cahill was ruled out of Euro 2012 with a fractured jaw, Hodgson selected Liverpool 22-year-old full-back Martin Kelly, who has one substitute appearance - and only two minutes at international level - compared to Ferdinand's experience. The 33 year-old has played at every major tournament England have qualified for from 1998.

"Every team has its problems," continued Blanc. "We have a few, the English might have some. With the English it seems to be injury problems.