Bernstein ducks Ferdinand questions
Football Association chairman David Bernstein has refused to discuss the absence of Rio Ferdinand, claiming England did not want to get sidetracked by "historical extraneous issues".
Ferdinand's absence from the 23-man squad that flew into Krakow has been a major talking point since manager Roy Hodgson chose to replace injured defender Gary Cahill with Liverpool youngster Martin Kelly on Monday.
Hodgson is yet to speak on the matter and is not set to talk to the media until the weekend. Bernstein, however, rebuffed repeated questions and seemed to sweep Ferdinand's 81-cap career away. He said: "We're here to talk about the tournament, about the 23 players who are here and I'm not prepared to discuss - at all - any players who are not here."
Speaking in Krakow's main square, Bernstein continued: "It might be an issue - but it's an issue I'm happy to talk about when the tournament is over maybe. We are here to talk about the tournament and about the future and that's it. We all want to maximise our chances of doing well and we want to focus on what's ahead of us - not what is behind us.
"We'd hope you would join us in that, looking forward to do the very best we can with positive thoughts and not dwelling on all these sort of what are now frankly historical, extraneous issues."
As Bernstein sat next to Hodgson on the flight from Luton, it must be assumed the pair were in agreement over how to handle the Ferdinand issue. Yet the problem is nothing to do with Ferdinand's absence, more the reasons given for it, and a feeling the defender is suffering from a situation that does not involve him.
The ongoing row, which has drawn in comment from so many angles, has cast a shadow over England's arrival in Krakow. Having opted for a city centre location, the FA must presumably have expected the huge numbers who turned out to herald the team's arrival, a significant number of whom were still present three hours later.
Indeed, the barricades at each end of the road may be preventing traffic from driving directly outside England's hotel but interested observers will never be far away given the number of cafes within close proximity, which the players are going to be free to use.
Whether Wayne Rooney could complete such an activity unmolested is open to debate. For others though, including Kelly, it is an option.
"We've gone into previous tournaments with high expectations and things haven't worked out," said Hodgson. "Today we are in a balanced position and the squad are feeling confident. Training has gone well and the build up has been really excellent. Our manager has only been on board a short time but I believe he has done a really good job."
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