Rio Ferdinand’s England call put in doubt

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Sir Alex Ferguson has hinted that it is not certain Rio Ferdinand will link up with England next week.

Ferdinand was in line to make his 82nd appearance for his country during the forthcoming World Cup double-header with San Marino and Montenegro after being called up by Roy Hodgson for the first time.

But Manchester United manager Ferguson has repeatedly spoken of Ferdinand’s battle to overcome a long-standing back injury, and the treatment required to get the 34-year-old on the field regularly. Given Ferdinand’s regular presence in the United squad over the past three seasons, it appears the policy has worked and Ferguson appears reluctant to risk a deterioration.

“I was as surprised as anyone when I heard,” he said. “I need to speak to our doctor because we prepare Rio in certain ways and he has certain treatments he has to go through. The procedures have been the same all season which has given him fantastic performance levels when he’s playing for us.

“He has to make sure he’s going to be okay in terms of the number of games he plays. We have to look at all these things before Rio decides and we’ll see what the outcome is.”