Former England defender Gary Pallister believes Rio Ferdinand has been consigned to the international scrapheap too early.
The 33-year-old has been overlooked by national team boss Roy Hodgson since his decision not to take him to Euro 2012.
Despite John Terry's international retirement, the United centre-back did not make the cut for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland this week.
"For me Rio should still be in the squad," said Pallister, who won 22 caps between 1988 and 1996. "You have lost a vast amount of experience with John Terry's retirement and I think that Rio still has a lot to offer the England cause. "Without John Terry and Rio we lack an authoritative figure in that back four - we didn't look so great at the back in the last internationals. "Gary Cahill is playing at the top level with Chelsea but has still got much to learn, Joleon Lescott is no longer playing in some of the big games for Manchester City and that makes you wonder if (City manager Roberto) Mancini trusts him fully, Phil Jagielka has been spasmodic in the games he has played for England and Ryan Shawcross is unproven at that level.
"Time will tell whether they can answer the questions being asked of them - I hope they can but in the meantime why not bed them in with the experience of someone like Rio? "I think considering Rio's experience we've put him on the international scrapheap far too early. "I watch him every other week and I think he is still a class apart and I think Roy has probably got it wrong.
"Of course he has lost some pace. He is going to lose it because he's coming up to his 34th birthday. "But I played alongside Steve Bruce (at United) and he was the first to say he didn't have great pace. "But it was all about reading the game, the timing of a tackle, being in the right at the right time - look at Bobby Moore: he didn't have blistering pace. "And Rio is a class act. He reads the game better than any other English centre-half in my opinion."
Hodgson insists he has not called time on Ferdinand's international career but many believe recent events have signalled the end. Pallister thinks the manner in which Ferdinand was left out of the Euro 2012 against the backdrop of his brother Anton's race row with Terry could have been the final straw.
"It (international retirement) must be on his mind, the way it has been handled and the way everything has gone," he added. "It was a very delicate subject leading into the European Championships; obviously choices were made so he must feel like retiring. "
Alex Ferguson has already said he should say 'no' (to a recall) any way but whether that's been taken out of his hands now I don't know. "If I was Rio I don't think I would have the willpower to come back and say 'I want to play for England again'.
"Look at (United team-mates) Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. If you want greater longevity for your club, then retiring from international football is good for your career. "But he plays sometimes as if he is wearing a pair of carpet slippers because he makes it look so easy so if Rio wants to play for England he should still be there."
Pallister was speaking at the launch of the In the 90th campaign, marking the 90th season of The Football Pools.