Ferdinand feared for England captaincy
Rio Ferdinand admits he had doubts as to whether he would regain the England captaincy after his struggles with injuries. Sir Alex Ferguson swiped the armband away from Ferdinand last month when he cited the 31-year-old's long-standing injury concerns as the major reason behind his decision to hand Nemanja Vidic the honour instead. This week, Fabio Capello has been faced with a similar choice. The decision could not have been easy given the mature manner with which Steven Gerrard handled the responsibility, both at the World Cup and since that disastrous period in South Africa. However, having given the job to Ferdinand ahead of Gerrard once, when John Terry was stripped of the role in February, the Italian has opted to stand by his man for tomorrow night's Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro at Wembley. "With all the hype that surrounds these kinds of situations, it does bring an element of doubt into your mind," admitted Ferdinand. "You end up thinking 'Will I or won't I?'. "As a kid, you dream about captaining your country. The manager has deemed me the right person to captain this team. When he told me it was a proud moment." From his first days in the job, Capello has been somewhat bemused by the English fascination about who the captain should be. In his world, the role is given to the oldest, or most capped, player, regardless of their suitability as skipper. Just two months short of his third anniversary, Capello's thoughts on the matter have not really changed, even if he now at least acknowledges the wider interest. "When Rio played, Stevie was always vice-captain," said Capello. "Rio is back. He will start as captain. These are the rules. "I told Stevie he was a fantastic captain but tomorrow he will have to play like a captain without the armband. "He has to be a leader." It does seem Ferdinand's performances in training since the England squad met up on Thursday evening have proved decisive. There was a strong suggestion last week that the £29.1million star would not even earn a place in the starting line-up, where John Terry was tipped to partner in-form Phil Jagielka. As it turned out, both men were ruled out through injury - as was Sunderland striker Darren Bent today, which offered Ferdinand an immediate return for what would be only his third outing in 11 England games. That statistic alone gives credence to Ferdinand's view that his role as captain was secondary to his presence within the England team. "It has been a fair road back," he said. "The aim now is to spend time on the pitch. "I have been out since the World Cup and I have only just managed to play consecutive games. "It has been a long time coming but long may it continue because the football pitch is where I love to be. "I have been put under the microscope this week. That is always the case with England. "You have to perform because the manager is analysing you, physically and mentally." Ferdinand will partner Joleon Lescott tomorrow, England's fifth central defensive pairing in as many games. The task is straightforward. Beat Montenegro to preserve the Three Lions' perfect start to Group G and wreck the 100% record of their opponents. In that regard, Ferdinand has to offer Gerrard a sincere thank you, for guiding England back from the disaster they endured without him last summer. "Steven has done a great job," said Ferdinand. "He dealt with all the fall-out from the World Cup but, more importantly, he played some good games for England in two important games after a tournament we would rather forget about. "It was a pressurised situation. "Now the manager has seen fit to make me captain. We are both experienced players and Steven has wished me luck in the same way I would have done to him if the situations had been reversed. "We are moving on and hopefully tomorrow we will continue our good start."
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