England manager Roy Hodgson has publicly apologised to Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand after a private conversation about the demise of the defender's international career was published in an an English national newspaper.
Hodgson is alleged to have told fellow passengers on a London Tube train en route to the Emirates Stadium for Arsenal's Champions League game in midweek that he would not select Ferdinand again. And his words soon made it onto the back pages.
Hodgson did leave Ferdinand out of his squad, announced on Thursday, for World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland, but admits he owes an apology to the experienced centre-back, who has won 81 caps for England.
"I have tried to speak to Rio and I am very disappointed that the story has come out like that and I apologise to him because there is no way I would ever indicate I wasn't going to use a player in that way," Hodgson said.
"I didn't choose him in the squad this time and it is for the same reasons as before, we have other players. But certainly I am not suggesting it is the end of the line.
"I would never dream of telling a player it's the end of the line or the end of the road or whatever I am supposed to have said. That is up to every player to decide for himself."
Hodgson has yet to speak to Ferdinand despite several attempts to contact him; but he was anxious to explain the situation, adding: "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'.
"I think that is about as far as I went. But I shouldn't say that of course. It's a mistake and I need to apologise for that.
"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 even open my mouth. I've paid for it."
Chelsea's John Terry was also absent from the squad to face San Marino after the defender retired from international football in protest at facing charges of racially abusing Rio Ferdinand's brother Anton in a match against QPR last season -- despite having already been found innocent of similar charges in a criminal court.
Terry was banned for four matches and fined Â£220,000. And Hodgson was quick to side-step questions about whether he would ever consider picking Terry in future.
"It's a hypothetical question," he said. "How can you pick someone in the squad if they have retired from international football? Would I pick Bobby Charlton if he hadn't stopped playing for England?
"The thing about John is that I have said what I wanted to say when I was obliged to make a statement when he retired from international football.
"It is a decision I regret because he did well for me as a national coach during my short time working with him and he has had a long career for England. But it is a decision which I respect and accept.
Hodgson's squad for San Marino and Poland includes fit-again West Ham striker Andy Carroll as well as Tottenham's Aaron Lennon, who hasn't played for England since June 2010.
Stoke City defender Ryan Shawcross, who could win his first cap despite being linked with a call-up to Wales only last month, is also selected along with Arsenal left-back Kieran Gibbs and Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
England squad for World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland:
Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster, Joe Hart, John Ruddy
Defenders: Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Kieran Gibbs, Phil Jagielka, Glen Johnson, Joleon Lescott, Ryan Shawcross, Kyle Walker
Midfielders: Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Steven Gerrard, Adam Johnson, Aaron Lennon, Frank Lampard, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott
Forwards: Andy Carroll, Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Welbeck