England captain Steven Gerrard insists that fans are entitled to voice their opinion over Rio Ferdinand’s withdrawal from the squad.
The Manchester United defender pulled out of Roy Hodgson’s original party after claiming that he could not follow his detailed pre-match training program while on international duty.
Ferdinand worked as a television pundit during England’s 8-0 victory over San Marino on Friday evening, while fans chanted abuse towards the 34-year-old.
“I think the fans have shown their frustrations about Rio not being here. They are entitled to their opinion. They’ve spent good money to come over here,” Gerrard said.
“Of course, we all wanted Rio here because he is a good player and he certainly would have helped us over these two games but he’s made his decision and we need to respect that.”
England sit two points behind Montenegro in Group H, facing a trip to Podgorica on Tuesday for their second World Cup qualifying fixture of the international break.
And Gerrard says that his side are braced for a frosty reception.
“I think their supporters will make it as hostile as they can,” the skipper said. “But I think we will be used to it and will be able to handle it.
“I don’t think there will be that many people there and we are used to playing in front of bigger crowds but these are the type of atmospheres where they try to intimidate us. Any time you are away from home against these countries, when England are in town, the supporters are up for it.
“They are desperate to beat us and everything is against us but I think we’ve got the players in the squad to go and handle the situation and get the three points.”