Sven-Goran Eriksson has described the row over Rio Ferdinand's omission from England's Euro 2012 squad as 'a smear campaign' against manager Roy Hodgson
Eriksson, who managed England between 2001 and 2006, sympathises with Hodgson over his decision to leave the Manchester United defender out. Debate over Hodgson's stance has intensified since Gary Cahill was ruled out of the tournament and Liverpool's once-capped Martin Kelly was called up as a replacement.
Some believe that discredited Hodgson's claim that his snub of Ferdinand was a football decision and was instead a move to prevent any disharmony with John Terry, but Eriksson told the Daily Mirror: "Choosing Kelly over Ferdinand seems to have caught him in the crossfire and, having selected six Liverpool players, Roy is the target of a smear campaign."
He added: "Personally, I just find the whole thing to be quite silly.
"First of all, they're all good footballers. But secondly, Roy has rock-solid knowledge when it comes to the players' current form.
"I do understand Rio's disappointment.
"He was an incredibly important player for me in three tournaments, but we mustn't forget the injuries he has suffered this season.
"Roy has his reasons, otherwise he would not have rejected Rio - twice.
"It has been an entirely football-based decision. That's all there is to it
"I know Roy will face it without losing his composure. Remember, this is England. No squad is ever selected without criticism."