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Rio moves to diffuse England row

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Rio Ferdinand has pledged his support to England's Euro 2012 campaign despite the controversy that has surrounded the Manchester United defender's continued absence from the squad.

Ferdinand's camp reacted furiously on Sunday to the former England captain again being overlooked following the enforced withdrawal of defender Gary Cahill, who suffered a fractured jaw during Saturday's Wembley defeat of Belgium.

Rather than call Ferdinand, 33, into the squad, Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson selected inexperienced Liverpool defender Martin Kelly, prompting Jamie Moralee, Ferdinand's long-time friend and business partner, to accuse the new manager of "a total lack of respect''.

Debate over the decision has been raging, but Ferdinand insisted on Monday he would be fully supportive of the team in Ukraine and Poland.

He Tweeted: "Just so we dont get it twisted ere....i'll be in a pub somewhere supporting England this summer! Love the lads!''

For Hodgson, though, the issue will not just go away and he will face yet more questions at the first available opportunity after England arrive at their Krakow base on Wednesday.

On initially selecting the squad, the former Liverpool and West Brom boss dismissed Ferdinand's absence as being for "footballing reasons".

However, many felt there were concerns about Ferdinand's ability to get along with John Terry in light of Terry's impending court case for alleged racist remarks to Ferdinand's brother Anton at Loftus Road in October. Terry denies the charge against him.

On Friday, Hodgson had bemoaned the loss of 143 caps' worth of experience in Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry, who have both been ruled out through injury. Now he finds himself in the uncomfortable position of having to explain how Ferdinand, with such vast experience, is being ignored on football grounds in favour of someone who made just 12 Premier League appearances for Liverpool this season.

Former England boss Steve McClaren has some sympathy for Hodgson, believing that he is in a no-win situation.

McClaren told Sky Sports News: "(He's tried) to avoid the media circus that would go on and on and on. Imagine the media attention surrounding John Terry and Rio Ferdinand every day, at the hotel, stories coming out in training. I think what Roy has had to do is choose between the two of them; he's chosen John Terry.

"I'm sure in an ideal world, without all the controversy around, he would take both. Rio is a fantastic player, he had a great season for Manchester United. John Terry is such a focal point for England as a team, as a squad, as a captain and as a leader.

"He (Hodgson) is in a lose-lose situation. He's made that decision. It's always going to be controversial but he has had to be strong and he has had to make it. The most important thing is when you are together for six weeks in a hotel and you are cocooned within that environment, if you've got anything going on within that squad that hampers the harmony and togetherness that has to be avoided.''

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