| 13.3°C Dublin

'No moral issue' in decision to pick Terry

Roy Hodgson insisted yesterday that he had no moral issue selecting John Terry for Euro 2012 and that Rio Ferdinand was omitted for purely "footballing reasons" as he felt he had better options in Terry, Phil Jones, Gary Cahill and Joleon Lescott.

England's manager did not accept he had rung the division bell in the England dressing-room by including the controversial Terry.

Hodgson revealed that he had spoken to both Terry and Ferdinand on Tuesday but never mentioned the obvious tension between the pair. Terry has been charged with racially abusing Ferdinand's brother Anton, a charge he strenuously denies.

"Everyone knows a situation has arisen but I have tried to put it as far from my mind as possible,'' said Hodgson.

"The moral judgment has been made on him (Terry) twice in the past. He lost his captaincy with Fabio Capello on a moral decision, if you like, and his captaincy with England on a moral decision (issues in his private life and also the Anton Ferdinand situation).

"Basically, I wanted to take a group of players that I think gives us a chance of doing well in the tournament. I decided John Terry should be one of the centre-halves. I hope he can put the other matters to one side.

"He's had them hanging over him for a long period of time and it hasn't distracted him from lifting the FA Cup and helping Chelsea reach the Champions League final.

"I know how committed he is to England and I hope his performances on the field will give the team a better chance of getting a result than if he wasn't there.

"He's not a fearful footballer. He has a lot of footballing qualities. That's why I've selected him. He's an excellent centre-half -- the type of centre-half that will help us win matches."

Hodgson talked about respecting Ferdinand as a "player and a person", realising "what a fine footballer he is".

The argument was riddled with holes, unfortunately. He talked of his concern that Ferdinand has played "only once for England in the last year", whereas his captain, Steven Gerrard, has managed only 33 minutes in 19 months.

Hodgson became annoyed when the focus yesterday was so intensively on Ferdinand and Terry.

"Are we going to talk about this until the cows come home?'' he said.

"The football reasons are quite simple. I wanted seven back players -- three centre-backs, with Phil Jones in the squad especially when Kyle Walker was no longer a possibility, because Phil can play right-back or centre-half."

Ferdinand is believed to be considering his international future and said last night on Twitter: "Absolutely loved playing for england... to say I'm gutted is an understatement of the highest order..."


Anti-racism organisations are also understood to be dismayed at Terry's inclusion, with one of them pointing out a previous comment from Reading's Jason Roberts that Terry would have a "toxic" effect on the dressing-room.

As expected, Hodgson has included 18-year-old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and he expects the Arsenal winger to push for a starting place.

"I wouldn't have chosen Alex if I didn't think he was ready to start games," he said.

"It won't be easy for him to break into the team given the competition, as we've loaded up in the wide areas because (Wayne) Rooney can't play in the first two matches. But I've seen him play in European matches and he has a maturity beyond his years.

"I think, sometimes, there has to be a place in the squad for a precocious talent. It'll help England's future as well."

Hodgson explained that he decided to include Andy Carroll following a conversation with Kenny Dalglish, which put the England manager's mind at ease with regards to the criticism Carroll has faced for his off-the-field activities.

And he defended the choice of Carroll's team-mate Stewart Downing, while dismissing claims that he had had a difficult relationship with Glen Johnson, his first-choice right-back, during his time at Anfield.

Hodgson revealed that Michael Carrick had ruled himself out of going to the finals because he did not want to be a squad player. Stoke City striker Peter Crouch is also believed to have ruled himself out for the standby list after being told he would not be in the squad, with Carroll selected ahead of him. (© Daily Telegraph, London)