Is Ferdinand finished?

Rio Ferdinand, the man who was fully fit and left out of the England squad for the draw against Montenegro.

An unthinkable prospect, not just because he was match-fit, but also due to the broader context that formerly one of the first names on the England team sheet has been left out in the dark.

It’s a dramatic fall from grace for the 32-year-old, who at the beginning of the year was captain before losing the armband to John Terry in March. He has since made just one cap this year which tells its own story.

Ferdinand became an established England centre-back due to his calming influence at the back and the ability to bring the ball out to start a counter-attack.

Sadly that sight has become increasingly rare, with the Manchester United defender becoming blighted by a series of niggling injuries that has left his place in doubt for both club and country.

We all remember the Sven Goran Erickson era, when the team at the 2006 World Cup could be picked by the average fan in the street. Ferdinand, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, David Beckham and Wayne Rooney were all guaranteed a place in the side.

But what you can credit Fabio Capello credit for is giving emerging players the chance to succeed at the top level, and Ferdinand does not fit that category.

Young stars such as: Phil Jones and Chris Smalling means Rio will have to work harder than ever to force his way back into Capello’s plans.

Jones in particular has been a revelation in the Premier League and it will be a huge shock if he does not board the plane to the Championships.

He is arguably the most complete defender England has produced in the last 20 years with his ability to lead the attack and track back when necessary.

The recent qualification campaign may not have sparked the imagination of the nation, but an area where we can be optimistic about is the defence, with the likes of Smalling, Jones and Tottenham’s Kyle Walker signifying the future.

There may no longer be space for an injury-ravaged Ferdinand.

James Hilsum

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