Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has been included in England’s squad to face San Marino and Montenegro.
The 34-year-old has been called up by Roy Hodgson for the first time, despite the Three Lions manager previously suggesting that the former skipper would not be considered for international duty.
Hodgson on Thursday admitted he was yet to speak to Ferdinand but is hopeful the defender will accept his recall to the squad.
“I haven’t spoken to him, Michael Dawson, Scott Parker, any of them. I work, maybe naively, on that basis that Rio is keen to come back into the squad,” he said.
“When I meet up with him on Monday I’ll be speaking to him then, as well as all the players. I don’t ring up individuals beforehand. I might ring up people if I’m going to leave them out, but not those who I select.”
The former Fulham boss does not foresee any issues with the defender’s call-up, maintaining that his past omission and imminent return to the squad were simply down to ‘football reasons’.
“There were no sinister reasons behind his selection, or non-selection, in the past. I’ve picked him on form and merit,” he said.
“I’ve been following him for quite a while now. I must’ve seen Manchester United play at least four or five times in the past four to five weeks.
“Obviously he is playing well, his team is playing extremely well, and I just think this is the right time to select him because he certainly deserves it on his current form and I’m hoping he will help us to win the two matches because that’s the most important thing for us.
“We need to move forward and at the moment, I am convinced that he is the man who will help us do that.”
Phil Jagielka is the man to make way for Ferdinand, who will been joined in the squad for the World Cup qualifiers by his United team-mate Michael Carrick, who comes in for injured Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere.
Michael Dawson’s fine form for Tottenham has also been rewarded with his first call-up in two years, replacing Joleon Lescott, who has been starved of first-team football at Manchester City this season.
There are also recalls for fellow Spurs players Jermain Defoe and Scott Parker, while Ben Foster makes his anticipated return to the England fold after recently coming out of international retirement.
Goalkeepers: Ben Foster , Joe Hart, Fraser Forster
Defenders: Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Michael Dawson, Rio Ferdinand , Glen Johnson, Chris Smalling, Kyle Walker
Midfielders: Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Aaron Lennon, James Milner, Leon Osman, Scott Parker , Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Ashley Young
Forwards: Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Daniel Welbeck