England manager Roy Hodgson has revealed he never considered handing Rio Ferdinand a last-minute Euro 2012 call-up.
Hodgson's decision to ignore Ferdinand and bring in Liverpool full-back Martin Kelly as Gary Cahill's replacement last Sunday, after the Chelsea defender was ruled out by a fractured jaw, drew stinging criticism from the Manchester United defender's camp.
"Rio Ferdinand never came into consideration. I had my squad of 23. I knew, in Cahill's absence, who would probably be the starters and who would be the covering players. I wasn't going to bring in a player of Rio's age, class, background and experience to be a cover player," Hodgson said.
Ferdinand's representative Jamie Moralee branded the Kelly move "a disgrace", while former England stars Robbie Fowler and Sol Campbell both claimed the 33-year-old's omission was a direct result of John Terry's inclusion. Campbell said he would hand his caps back if it turned out race was a factor.
But addressing the matter for the first time in Krakow, Hodgson said Ferdinand never crossed his mind as a potential replacement for Cahill. "People think I looked at two players when Gary Cahill was injured and chose Martin Kelly," said Hodgson. "But there was never any question of that."
In fact, Hodgson's first thought was Tottenham defender Kyle Walker but he was told the broken toe that had ruled him out once already had not healed. Kelly was the next best option, and Ferdinand's status did not change that conviction, he said.
"I made a decision, a very clear one, a very easy one," said Hodgson. "The difficult decision was whether to take Rio in the original 23. That took a lot of soul-searching."
In terms of explaining why Ferdinand was left out of his initial squad, Hodgson said at the time it was due to the catch-all "football reasons", which created a void that was filled mostly with conjecture about a potential conflict with Terry, even though Hodgson had insisted it did not come into his thinking.
Now, he says it did but was not the decisive factor. "I can't say it didn't occur to me," he said. "I'm a football person. I work in football day in, day out. I don't live on the planet Mars. You can't expect me to say I didn't even give that a thought.
"But when you've played 81 times for your country, only a couple of times in the last few years and had a lot of injuries, those players don't go as travellers. I had to be convinced that, if I was going to take Rio in my 23, he'd be one of the first names on the team sheet. I couldn't be convinced that would be the case."