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Hodgson sorry for telling fans Ferdinand was out
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By ROB HARRIS
AP Sports Writer
WEMBLEY, England — Roy Hodgson will be guarding his tongue when traveling on the Tube from now on, after learning that idle chat with fellow commuters may not be such a good idea when you’re England’s national team coach.
Hodgson had to apologize to Rio Ferdinand on Thursday after telling fellow passengers on the Underground that the veteran Manchester United defender was not selected for upcoming World Cup qualifiers - comments that were then published by a newspaper before his official announcement.
Ferdinand already was upset about being left off England’s European Championship roster, and Hodgson said he should have been more careful in keeping his squad selection a secret - but insisted that he hasn’t ruled out choosing the defender in the future.
“I am disappointed that a stray conversation has been reported in that way,” 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. ... It’s a mistake and I need to apologize for that.”
Despite his high profile and holding one of the most scrutinized jobs in England, Hodgson chose to take the Tube before attending Arsenal’s Champions League game against Olympiakos on Wednesday. He said he enjoys engaging with fans on the train, but that he will be a bit more careful from now on when it comes to answering their questions.
“This is one of the hazards, I suppose, of travelling on Tube trains when you go up to London, which is the best way for me to travel, and then of course speaking to people who ask me questions rather than sitting there tight-lipped refusing to ever open my mouth,” Hodgson said. “I’ve paid for it. I shall learn in the future and maybe this will be a lesson for all the people who see me on the Tube in future: please don’t be too offended if I refuse to answer any questions you ask me.”
Ferdinand was overlooked Thursday for upcoming games against San Marino and Poland. Ryan Shawcross received his second international callup and coach make his national team debut.
Hodgson’s central defense options were reduced when John Terry quit the national team last month before he was found guilty by the Football Association of racially abusing Ferdinand’s brother, Anton.
“John Terry’s retirement does not have an impact on whether I pick Rio at all,” Hodgson said.
Ahead of the European Championship in June, Hodgson insisted that Ferdinand was not selected for “football reasons,” rather than his differences with Terry.
But while Ferdinand has started United’s recent Champions League and Premier League games, center back Joleon Lescott retained his place despite being dropped for key Manchester City matches this season.
“I am staying with the players I selected for the Euros,” Hodgson said. “I am looking to the future. It is not for me to call time on anyone’s career. 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.”
Strikers Wayne Rooney and Andy Carroll return after being injured for the first two qualifiers last month - a victory over Moldova and a draw with Ukraine.
England hosts San Marino, tied for 207th and last in the FIFA rankings, on Oct. 12 at Wembley Stadium before playing at Poland on Oct. 16. In Warsaw, left back Ashley Cole could make his 100th England appearance.
Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Glasgow Celtic, Scotland), Joe Hart (Manchester City), John Ruddy (Norwich)
Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Joleon Lescott (Manchester City), Ryan Shawcross (Stoke), Kyle Walker (Tottenham)
Midfielders: Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Tom Cleverley (Manchester United), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Adam Johnson (Sunderland), Aaron Lennon (Tottenham), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Manchester City), Theo Walcott (Arsenal)
Forwards: Andy Carroll (Liverpool), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United)