Ferdinand & Hodgson blamed after Rio’s England pull out, Arsenal want Chelsea’s Cech & Man United plot £15m Begovic bid

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “I’m disappointed Rio will not be available but due to the preplanned training and medical programme he must follow it’s not possible. I was pleased Rio called and asked to meet with me. It was important to hear from him personally about the way he must manage his body between games. This is not to say he cannot play back-to-back games – he can and has proven so. He’s out this time due to particular pre-planned details already in place for his programme. I was impressed with his commitment to playing for England and I look forward to hopefully selecting him in the future.” – Roy Hodgson.

Runner-up: “It was important for me to be able to speak with Roy face-to-face and explain the situation. One thing I made clear was that my passion and commitment to represent my country is as strong as ever. It is disappointing that I won’t be able to play a part in the upcoming games but I told Roy I want to continue to be available for England and I look forward to working with him in the future.” – Rio Ferdinand.

After All That Rio Ferdinand Pulls Out The England Squad

England’s shambles (Shaun Custis, Sun) England’s World Cup plans turned into a shambles last night after Rio Ferdinand pulled out of Roy Hodgson’s squad. The Three Lions camp was in disarray after Ferdinand ruled himself out of the qualifiers in San Marino and Montenegro because he would not have been physically ready for the games.

If Ferdinand jeopardises his United career, he would never forgive himself (Jamie Redknapp, Mail) Rio Ferdinand has done what he thinks is best for him. As you get older, you have to look after your body so much more and Ferdinand must feel he is not capable of training and playing normally. If he can’t, joining the squad is a pointless exercise.

Rio Ferdinand hokey-cokey risks making England a laughing stock all over again (Martin Lipton, Mirror) If it didn’t keep on happening, it would look like a bad-taste joke. Yet just like so many of his predecessors, Roy Hodgson has become the agent of his own misfortune and England risk becoming a laughing stock all over again. Rio Ferdinand’s England hokey-cokey – in-out, in-out – has certainly shaken the remaining players about, breeding a mood of disquiet ahead of Monday night’s meet-up at St George’s Park.

Rio: You’ve Let England Down

England needed Rio to be like Nobby Stiles, not out partying with Harry Styles (Martin Samuel, Mail) It was not until Sunday night, in fact, that Ferdinand saw fit to inform Hodgson he would not, after all, be available for the matches against San Marino and Montenegro. His intricate, pre-planned programme would not allow it. One Direction concerts, apparently, are not as stringently monitored because Ferdinand found time to attend one of those at the weekend. Traipsing around behind the latest pop fad while the England manager remained in the dark about an impending crisis, Ferdinand seemed to epitomise the self-absorption of so many modern footballers — more Harry Styles than Nobby Stiles.

Has Rio missed a trick with Roy? (Steven Howard, Sun) If Ferdinand had REALLY wanted to play for England he would have taken the decision himself. So much then for his assertion not long ago that he would pack his own bags to play for England again. He says he will still be available for his country in the future. Not much chance of that now.

Actually Its Hogdson’s Fault

Roy Hodgson’s Rio Ferdinand gaffe could cost England (Henry Winter, Telegraph) [Hodgson] failed to communicate with the country’s best centre-half, Rio Ferdinand, until too late and England will discover how damaging the consequences are against Montenegro… Hodgson’s reputation has been harmed by his naïve handling of the Ferdinand saga, turning a sensitive but avoidable situation into a bit of a fiasco. England’s hopes of qualifying for the World Cup have been tempered by the defender’s no-show. For all its sweet talking, the FA has been cuckolded. Even Ferdinand is hardly triumphant; when his country needed him, he turned his sore back, and that is a memory that stains his England legacy.

Rio Ferdinand confusion leaves Roy Hodgson with questions to answer (Owen Gibson, Guardian) His handling of Ferdinand ahead of the biggest test of his regime so far – given that he was still enjoying a honeymoon period when he took England to the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine at short notice last summer – does not reflect particularly well on Hodgson… Even if Hodgson was not able to float in a call to the 34-year-old, then surely one of his medical team could have made contact with their colleagues at Manchester United?

Roy’s Rio blunder (Ian Wright, Sun) Roy Hodgson should take a long, hard look at himself. Like his predecessor Fabio Capello, he has handled Rio Ferdinand spectacularly badly. While Capello was not always known for his people skills, Hodgson has a reputation for being more approachable and hands-on. But his treatment of Rio has been disgraceful… All of this would have been avoided had there been some proper communication between Rio and Hodgson. This is not the player’s fault.

Life After Ferdinand

In Rio’s absence, Smalling and Cahill are the men to face dangerous Montenegro (Martin Keown, Mail) Rio Ferdinand’s withdrawal is not ideal for England and Roy Hodgson but let’s not panic. Last month, Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill were the centre-back partnership against Brazil and they would be my pick to play in these qualifiers.

Cahill injury and Rio rejection give Hodgson back problems (Sam Wallace, Independent) As for Cahill, he had a scan last night and will be assessed by the FA’s medical staff this morning ahead of training in the afternoon. The Chelsea defender picked up a problem against West Ham on Sunday having landed awkwardly on his knee after jumping for a header. Cahill is by no means certain to be fit and Chelsea will be mindful of their punishing fixture schedule, including that FA Cup replay against United. Tottenham defender Steven Caulker was promoted from the Under-21s squad yesterday to replace Ferdinand, the second late call-up for a centre-half after Joleon Lescott. With Michael Dawson and Ferdinand now out of contention, and Cahill carrying an injury, Hodgson has just Lescott, Caulker and Chris Smalling fit among his centre-halves.

Transfer Lies

Arsenal target Chelsea keeper as patience with out-of-form Szczesny runs thin (Mail) Petr Cech is the surprise name on Arsenal’s six-man shortlist to replace goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny next season… Pepe Reina, Asmir Begovic, Victor Valdes, Rene Adler and Michel Vorm also appear on the club’s goalkeeping hit list.

Manchester United poised to swoop for Stoke City’s £15m-rated goalkeeper Asmir Begovic (Telegraph) Begovic has emerged as a target for Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea and his sale could break the British transfer record for a goalkeeper, with Stoke City confident of pushing the asking price closer towards £20 million in the event of an auction.

City’s £60m for Cav ride (Sun) Man City have been told they can sign Edinson Cavani this summer — for a mind-boggling £60 million… City are planning a busy summer with the futures of Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko, Samir Nasri, Gareth Barry, Aleksandar Kolarov and Joleon Lescott all up in the air.

United watch Garay and give trail to 16-year-old Rasmussen (Mail) Manchester United have again sent scouts to watch Benfica defender Ezequiel Garay, 26, who scored in the 4-0 defeat of Vitoria Guimaraes on Sunday. They have also given a trial to Danish defender Jacob Rasmussen, 16, from Odense. Lastly, United have joined Arsenal in watching FC Copenhagen striker Andreas Cornelius, 20.

Liverpool join growing list of admirers for Celtic midfielder Wanyama (Mail) Rodgers has made strengthening his defence a priority and wants at least one more attacking player. Yet Kenya holding midfielder Wanyama fits the player profile desired by the club’s owners and he can also provide cover at centre back, which is a bonus.

Ashley joins Newcastle super scout in France to monitor £10m striker Aubameyang (Mail) Mike Ashley was last night present at Paris Saint-Germain’s 2-2 draw away to St Etienne to monitor Newcastle transfer target Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

McManaman’s Tackle: Halsey Horror Abuse 

Callum McManaman’s horror tackle has Newcastle considering legal action (Alan Nixon, Mirror) Newcastle are examining their LEGAL options over the horror tackle by Callum McManaman that left Magpies defender Massadio Haidara injured. Left-back Haidara had a scan on Monday but is likely to need further examination later this week before he knows how badly his knee and thigh have been damaged on Sunday by the Wigan winger’s reckless challenge.

Death threat stuns Halsey (Neil Custis, Sun) Mark Halsey is considering his refereeing future after being the subject of a death threat. He was in charge of Wigan’s clash with Newcastle on Sunday and missed Callum McManaman’s horror challenge on Massadio Haidara after his view was blocked. That led to him being attacked on Twitter and one threat left him shaken and unable to sleep on Sunday night.