England manager Roy Hodgson says he has tried to contact Rio Ferdinand to apologise for comments he made on the London Underground.
Travelling to the Champions League clash between Arsenal and Olympiacos on Wednesday, Hodgson told commuters that the Manchester United defender would not be selected for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland and that his international career may be over.
“I am disappointed that a stray conversation has been reported in that way,” Hodgson said.
“All I remember was that I was talking to quite a lot of people on the Tube and one guy said ‘is Rio in the next squad?’ and I think I might have said ‘I don’t think so’. It’s a mistake and I need to apologise for that.”
Ferdinand has 81 caps to his name but has represented England just three times since missing the 2010 World Cup through injury.
“I have tried to get in touch with Rio today,” Hodgson said.
“I didn’t say Rio’s career was over. I might have admitted, foolishly I guess, and I only have myself to blame, that I wasn’t going to choose him in this squad.
“I am just disappointed this could be seen as a lack of respect to Rio which is something I would shy away from.
“I have the utmost respect for him, as a person and a player. The bottom line is I am sticking to my guns. I am staying with the players I selected for the Euros. I am looking to the future.
“I would never dream of calling time on anyone’s career. It is up to an individual player to decide when he is not selected if he doesn’t want to play anymore.
“When I speak to Rio I will make that very clear to him. It is up to him to decide the day when he no longer wants to be an England player.”
Hodgson announced his England squad on Thursday, recalling Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross, Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon, Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs and Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster.