FERGIE BACKS FERDINAND FOR EURO 2012
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson believes Rio Ferdinand should be in England's squad for Euro 2012.
The former England captain has not played for his country since last June for form and fitness reasons, while there are also believed to be tensions between him and long-time defensive partner John Terry.
New England manager Roy Hodgson has said meeting both players to resolve the latter issue will be one of his top priorities, while Ferguson has no doubts over Ferdinand's form since overcoming back trouble.
Ferguson said: "He has done fantastic this season. There was a period where I played him in three games in seven days from the end of January, but apart from that it has been every seven days.
"He has coped very well and has had a fantastic season.
"I don't know if Roy's thinking about the situation because I haven't spoken to him, but experience is going to be important in the European Championship.
"I think Phil Jones and Chris Smalling should go but they have not played a lot of football this season in terms of centre-back play, so you go back to what you are left with.
"You have John Terry and Rio Ferdinand and Gary Cahill. Then you have Jones and Smalling. There is not a lot after that."
Former England centre-back Martin Keown believes Hodgson needs to work through the personal difficulties to take both 31-year-old Terry and Ferdinand, 33, to the tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
However, for footballing reasons, he doubts whether they should still play together.
Keown, speaking at the BBC's Euro 2012 launch, said: "It is a big problem because they are both outstanding figures and personalities in the dressing room.
"They have both been captains of England and you don't want to dismiss these characters. You need to talk to them and think seriously.
"Does Rio want to carry on in international football? I still feel he has something to offer, but that is a question that needs to be asked.
"John has lost the captaincy and how does that sit with him now, coming into a squad where he is not the main event any more? Is he comfortable with that?
"Let's see what they have to say but I still think they have both got things to offer.
"I think he (Hodgson) would split them up, though. I don't think he would play them as a pair any more.
"You have got to think about pace and mobility, although Rio still does a decent job in that area.
"He was probably unfairly treated by Sir Alex Ferguson earlier in the season, suggesting he had lost his pace.
"He has shown good character to fight back and he won't want to give up international football."
Keown, who won 43 caps for England, believes there are good options in the Premier League to partner either player at international level.
The former Arsenal and Everton centre-back said: "I still think we have got some good central defenders - Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Joleon Lescott.
"I think Micah Richards is a good player who could do a job in the squad.
"There is plenty to choose from, so Roy isn't desperate for both of them (Terry and Ferdinand) to be involved. He has got to measure their value to the squad."
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