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Ferdinand: Youngsters deserved a chance

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 27 Jun 2012

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Former England captain Rio Ferdinand has slammed the lack of opportunities given to Phil Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at Euro 2012.

The 33-year old, who was controversially omitted from Roy Hodgson’s squad, could not believe Manchester United team-mate Jones did not get any playing time during the competition and thought Oxlade-Chamberlain should have had a bigger role to play.

The Arsenal teenager started England’s opening game against France but his involvement after that match was limited to appearances as an 89th and 87th minute substitute against Sweden and Ukraine respectively.

“If you take the youngsters to a competition like this, you should get them out there and see what they are made of,” Ferdinand told The Sun.

“I am a fan of ‘The Ox’ (Oxlade-Chamberlain) and I wanted to see more of him but in the end he finished up as a spectator. He was almost in the same position Theo Walcott was when he was picked for the 2006 World Cup.

“Phil Jones is one of the most adaptable players we have in our country and where was he?

“When we need to take the ball from midfield, run 40 yards with it and put the other team on the back foot, he is the man for the job. Instead, we stayed cautious and Jordan Henderson was used instead.”

Central midfielders Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker were left without experienced cover after Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry suffered pre-tournament injuries, but Jones, who has played in that position for his club, was left consigned to the bench.

“That’s not a criticism of Jordan, he is a different player to Phil, but I thought it showed we were being too conservative,” Ferdinand said of Hodgson’s preference for Henderson.

“It sends a message to the opponents that you are more interested in defending and playing on the counter-attack than making them scared of you. The other thing is that Phil was in the squad before Jordan, who was a stand-by player.

“I’m reading a lot of stuff about how it’s time to get the youngsters in and all of that but you only find out if they can do it when you throw them in there.

“What did we learn about Alex and Phil at this tournament? Do we know how much influence Alex can have on a game in a (Euro) finals? He did fairly well against France, so why not persist with him and let him grow into it?

“As for Phil, we will now have to wait until the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, provided we qualify, to see how good he can be at the highest level. Expectations were low so the manager had a free shot to find out about our youngsters and I feel it was a missed opportunity.”

Ferdinand also bemoaned the exclusion of Michael Carrick from England’s squad, comparing the playmaker to Andrea Pirlo and suggesting that if the Italian was English, he would have been similarly snubbed.

“People have been talking about the huge influence of Andrea Pirlo for Italy against us but our own Pirlo was on a beach somewhere,” Ferdinand said.

“Michael was the man to create for us and we left him behind.

“When we faced Pirlo for United against AC Milan a couple of seasons ago, our gaffer stuck Park Ji-Sung on him and he never let him out of his sight. We won the game 4-0 and I bet when Pirlo woke up the next day he thought Park was lying beside him, he had stayed that close.

“Pirlo is always dangerous when he is allowed time and space but the way to try and stop him is to get someone near to him.

“Mind you, that isn’t always easy and the way he played, at the age of 33, gives all us over 30s hope. He’s an inspiration.

“If Pirlo was English would he have made the squad let alone been on the pitch? I don’t know as his qualities may have been overlooked … not by just the current manager but maybe those before him too.”

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