DUMPED: Hodgson drops United defender for Euro 2012
LONDON: VETERAN defender Rio Ferdinand was the highest-profile casualty yesterday as England manager Roy Hodgson unveiled his squad for the European Championships.
After intense speculation about whether Hodgson would risk picking Ferdinand and Chelsea captain John Terry in the same squad, an announcement confirmed that it was the Manchester United centre-half who had been left out.
Terry had previously been tipped to miss out with Hodgson questioning whether the centre-half could exist happily in the same squad as Ferdinand, who has accumulated 81 caps since making his debut in 1997.
Terry is facing a July court case on allegations he racially abused Ferdinand's younger brother Anton during Chelsea's Premier League clash with Queens Park Rangers last October, accusations he strongly denies.
However Ferdinand's ability to withstand the rigours of a tournament campaign were called into doubt by his Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson last week, who questioned whether the defender could play two games in four days.
Hodgson later told reporters that Ferdinand's omission was made "purely" on footballing grounds.
"It's purely a footballing decision," Hodgson said. "He's a player I respect as a person and a man. But I had to make a footballing decision I had to decide on the basis of what I've seen in recent months.
"Rio's only played once for England in the last year. On a footballing basis I wanted people like (Phil) Jones in the squad. It was a hard phone call to make. I can only hope that Rio accepts my decision."
Meanwhile, Hodgson defended his decision to pick Terry, saying his looming court case had not figured in his calculations.
"If we take the court case first of all -- we must emphasise at first that he's an innocent man until such time as he's been proven guilty," Hodgson said.
"I was given a free hand. I realised when I selected him (Terry) there would be people who would raise their eyebrows.
"But I think he's played well and he's played an important part in their FA Cup victory and reaching the Champions League final.
"I'm hoping he will help us win matches."
Hodgson, meanwhile, confirmed Liverpool's Steven Gerrard would captain England at the Euros.
Other notable selections on Wednesday saw Arsenal teenager Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain earn his first senior call-up after a promising first season with the Premier League giants.
Meanwhile, Liverpool striker Andy Carroll's reward for a strong finish to the season is a place among the pool of four strikers picked by Hodgson.
With Wayne Rooney suspended for England's opening two Group D games, Carroll is now a strong candidate to lead the attack in the Three Lions' opening game against France in Donetsk on June 11.
Rooney's Manchester United colleague Danny Welbeck and Tottenham's Jermain Defoe complete the line-up of forwards.
In midfield Hodgson has opted for an experienced pool of players with several veterans of England's ill-fated 2010 World Cup campaign in the frame, including Gerrard, Frank Lampard, James Milner and Gareth Barry.
Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy has also forced his way into the squad after an acclaimed season for the Canaries.
Ruddy has been given special dispensation to miss England's final warm-up game against Belgium on June 2 as it clashed with his planned wedding.
"He offered to cancel it but we told him there is no need to. He will rejoin the squad after his wedding," an FA spokesman said.
Earlier yesterday, the FA confirmed Hodgson had scrapped plans to take England's squad on a four-day training camp to Spain next week ahead of their May 26 friendly with Norway in Oslo.
England will now train at Manchester City's stadium next week before heading to Oslo on May 25.
THE SQUAD -- Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Man City), Rob Green (West Ham), John Ruddy (Norwich); Defenders: Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Man United), John Terry (Chelsea), Joleon Lescott (Man City), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Leighton Baines (Everton); Midfielders: Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Stewart Downing (Liverpool), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Gareth Barry (Man City), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Scott Parker (Tottenham), Ashley Young (Man United), James Milner (Man City); Forwards: Wayne Rooney (Man United), Danny Welbeck (Man United), Andy Carroll (Liverpool), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham); Standby: Jack Butland (Birmingham), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Johnson (Manchester City), Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea). AFP