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Venables: England 'naked' without Rio

ESPN staff
May 17, 2012 « SFA panel rejects Rangers' appeal | Chartbeat test »

Terry Venables has claimed Roy Hodgson has made some bold calls in his England squad, but he feels it looks "naked" without Rio Ferdinand.

Hodgson named his 23-man squad for Euro 2012 on Wednesday, with confirmation of the omission of Manchester United defender Ferdinand the main talking point.

Ferdinand has admitted to being "gutted" to be left out and it is a sentiment former England boss Venables agrees with.

"Just two weeks into his tenure as England manager, Roy Hodgson has already shown he is not afraid to make big calls," Venables wrote in the Sun. "And they do not come much bigger than leaving out Rio Ferdinand from the squad for Euro 2012. News of the Manchester United star's omission may have leaked out the night before but I am still surprised he is not included.

"The squad looks a bit naked without him.

"Now Ferdinand may not have had his best season for Manchester United and there are question marks over his fitness. But he is still a class act with the experience and ability to do a job for his country at a major tournament."

Venables is concerned with the balance of the squad, given Glen Johnson is the only recognised right-back - with Phil Jones a likely understudy.

"His (Ferdinand's) inclusion would have evened out an imbalanced squad that I feel is too heavy in the middle. Hodgson, who it should be remembered has been thrust into the job at the 11th hour, has named nine midfielders - while Phil Jones, who has also played in midfield, is listed among the defenders, of which there are just seven.

"Jones could also be forced to double up as Glen Johnson is the only recognised right-back in the group. That's despite the fact many United fans will question his ability to play that role."

The lack of striking options is also a concern for Venables, with Wayne Rooney suspended for the first two games of the tournament.

Venables said: "I wonder if four widemen is a bit excessive, especially as only four strikers have been named. And one of them, Wayne Rooney, is suspended for the first two matches of the tournament.

"Now I know the likes of [Theo] Walcott, [Ashley] Young or [Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain could push forward, as could new captain [Steven] Gerrard. But in reality we are left with one or two from just Jermain Defoe, Danny Welbeck and Andy Carroll as our attacking threat in our opening games against France and Sweden."

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