Hodgson ponders dropping Terry for Euros
New England manager Roy Hodgson hopes to speak to Rio Ferdinand within the next week to gauge the Manchester United defender's feelings about playing at the European Championships next month.
Hodgson said in his introduction as England manager on Tuesday that one of his priorities was to find out whether the 33-year-old would be able to play in the same side as John Terry, who is in court on July 9 on charges of racially abusing Ferdinand's younger brother Anton.
Ferdinand has not played for England since the Euro 2012 qualifier against Switzerland last June and had not been in a squad since the incident between Terry and Anton in October.
The question of whether the two centre-backs -- who have nominally been first-choice (when fit) for almost a decade -- could co-exist in the same squad goes right to the heart of one of the biggest questions that Hodgson has to answer.
Ferdinand has made a timely return to United's first team and could play a part in the England team this summer. It cannot be ruled out that Hodgson will make a big decision before he names his squad on May 14, possibly even leaving out Terry altogether. Those who know him well maintain he is not afraid of making difficult choices.
Suggestions yesterday that Hodgson would bring Paul Ince, who played for him at Internazionale, into his backroom staff appear to be off the mark. The England manager is expected to appoint two coaches to his staff. There have been many names suggested in the last 24 hours, including the prospect that Hodgson might approach one of the Neville brothers, Gary or Phil.
Hodgson will not attend the FA Cup final on Saturday, preferring instead to prepare his West Bromwich Albion side for the penultimate game of their season, away at Bolton Wanderers on Sunday.
As well as solving the Ferdinand-Terry conundrum, Hodgson needs to bring in a coach. Somebody such as Phil Neville, currently doing his badges while playing at Everton, and possibly Alan Shearer, are the type of emerging coaches Hodgson is looking for. He wants somebody young who can double up as a conduit with the dressing-room.
Neville, who played 59 times for his country, has won respect for his role as Everton captain and he has already been involved with the England U-21 squad. He came out to bat on Hodgson's behalf yesterday following headlines in an English newspaper which mocked the new England manager's manner of speaking.
"Have u seen front page of the sun this morning disgraceful journalism-what chance have we got!" Neville tweeted.
Hodgson, though, received some good news with a positive medical bulletin about Darren Bent, the Aston Villa striker who ruptured ankle ligaments in February.
"I don't believe there is a chance of him playing again for Villa this season," said the Villa manager, Alex McLeish. "The doc thinks he's got a chance for the Euros, though -- he's talking about four or five weeks (until he's ready to play). He's running and he's working individually with the physios.
"I'm not sure if he's at the level of striking a ball yet, but he can't be far away from that now. The physios will still be working on him to get him back to his peak fitness again."
Villa are being cautious about when Bent can return but the player is more optimistic. There is a belief that he is further ahead in his rehabilitation.
Bent has been assessed by the England medical staff. His availability for Hodgson would be a boon with Wayne Rooney suspended for the first two games of the Euros.
If Hodgson decides to take five strikers, possibly using a centre-half such as Chris Smalling to cover right-back and free up a place, then Bent could join Rooney, Danny Welbeck, Jermain Defoe and one from Peter Crouch, Andy Carroll or Bobby Zamora. Hodgson made it clear Rooney was very much part of his plans.
"I'm looking forward very much to Wayne Rooney coming to the Euros with us and to his contribution, even if he can't play in the first two games." (© Independent News Service)