Sport Soccer

Friday 24 November 2017

Hodgson tight-lipped on Rio's Doha jaunt

Rio Ferdinand must "wait and see" to find out if he has an England future after creating more headlines by flying to Doha to commentate on his country's World Cup qualifier with San Marino this evening.

Roy Hodgson would give no firm assurances on what lies ahead internationally for Ferdinand, who withdrew from the squad on Monday to follow a pre-planned fitness routine.

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has often spoken of Ferdinand having to battle to overcome a back problem. But Ferdinand has now taken to the air to visit the Aspire training academy before appearing as a pundit for Al Jazeera. It will involve a demanding 15-hour round trip for the 34-year-old player, who won the last of his 81 caps nearly two years ago.

When asked if Ferdinand has an international future, Hodgson said: "I think we should wait and see. It's more a question of whether his injury situation will impact upon him playing for England."

He refused to comment on Ferdinand's flight to Doha and back.

"It has got nothing to do with me," he said. "I was disappointed he couldn't take up our invitation. He was selected on merit and it would have been good to have him here because he has been playing well."

Regrets

Hodgson insists he has no regrets about how he has handled the events of the last 10 days: "No, of course I wouldn't do anything different," he said. "It might have been naive but I always believed people who are selected are going to want to be there and pleased to be selected and don't need to be told in advance."

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill believes Fabio Capello is right to leave Arsenal's Andrey Arshavin in the wilderness.

Capello has favoured players based in the Russian league since taking over from Dick Advocaat last year, meaning the likes of Arshavin and Reading's Pavel Pogrebnyak have been exiled.

But O'Neill, who is preparing his side for tonight's Windsor Park meeting with the Group F leaders, has given Capello his full backing. He believes the Italian has put together a side with more heart than the one that shone briefly at Euro 2012 before fading badly.

Tonight's match is O'Neill's ninth in charge and the elephant in the room remains his lack of a victory since taking over from Nigel Worthington.

Meanwhile, Gordon Strachan has his first competitive game as Scotland boss against Wales in their World Cup qualifier at Hampden Park tonight and commented, "bring it on".

Strachan got his tenure off to an encouraging start with a 1-0 win over Estonia in a challenge match last month. However, the serious stuff begins against the Welsh as Scotland try to rescue ailing qualification hopes.

They are bottom of Group A with two points from four games, one behind Chris Coleman's men.

San Marino v England,

Live, UTV, 8.0

Northern Ireland v Russia,

Live, Sky Sports 3, 7.45

Scotland v Wales,

Live, Sky Sports 2, 8.0

Irish Independent

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