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Rio Ferdinand not left out of squad for 'footballing reasons', says former England striker Robbie Fowler

ROBBIE Fowler, the former England and Liverpool striker has entered the debate over Rio Ferdinand's omission from Roy Hodgson's Euro 2012 squad after saying that there is "not a chance" the Manchester United centre-back was left out for "footballing reasons".

Fowler, who played alongside Ferdinand during his time at Leeds United for one season before he joined United for a record-breaking £30 million, criticised England manager Hodgson saying: "There’s not a chance Rio Ferdinand was left out of the England squad for 'footballing reasons'. Not a chance. The public knows that too."

The comments from the former Liverpool striker were made in the 37 year-old's latest column for bookmakers' website Paddy Power.

"The reason is Rio’s brother, Anton, was allegedly racially abused by [Chelsea captain] John Terry," Fowler continued.

"I’ve read that Ferdinand got in touch with Hodgson shortly after he was appointed as manager to say he was willing to play in the same England team as Terry.

"Rio was then overlooked for the Euro 2012 23-man squad for what was described as 'purely a footballing decision' by Hodgson.

"It’s the choice by Hodgson to replace the injured Chelsea centre-half Gary Cahill with Martin Kelly that has really caused the backlash now.

"I played with Rio Ferdinand at Leeds United. He is a fantastic player who reads the game brilliantly. He started 30 Premier League games for Manchester United last season and nearly won the league. Footballing reasons?

"Rio is a quieter defender than John Terry. Terry is more dominant, and yes, England need that. Roy Hodgson doesn’t want to concede goals. I would still have taken Ferdinand.

"But this looks like the end of his England career, to be honest."

Meanwhile, Rafael van der Vaart added that he too was bemused by Ferdinand's omission.

The Holland forward said: "It surprised me because I think he's still one of the best defenders in England, and maybe in the world.

"Of course, he's a little bit older now, but he's still fit and fresh and he played for Manchester United."