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Martin Kelly Not A Match For Rio Ferdinand

Wednesday 13th June 2012
The decision behind leaving Rio Ferdinand out of England's Euro 2012 was as strange as it was controversial, especially when Martin Kelly, far from a Liverpool regular, was selected as an emergency replacement ahead of him.

Roy Hodgson has repeatedly claimed it is down to 'footballing reasons' which, as England manager, he's entitled to do. Hodgson is the boss and should have total control about who to take include in his squad - but that doesn't mean his decision is a sound one.

I first went to see England play in the France '98 qualifiers and have been to every England game at Wembley since. I'm a huge believer that the best players should be in the team and that reputation shouldn't count for anything. If you're fit, in form and can bring something to the squad then you should get a call up. Using this criteria, surely Rio should have at least been on the plane to Poland and Ukraine.

The arguments for leaving Rio at home are weak, and if we take Hodgson's 'footballing reasons' we can dismiss it easily. Rio played consistently for Man United who finished second in the Premier League last season. He played in the Champions League and he's one of the most dominant defenders in the Premiership. Admittedly he's had a few injuries in recent years, but he's been fit for long periods of this season and has performed to the highest level on the pitch.

Secondly, if we employ the idea that we take our best players, Rio gets on the plane. Are we honestly saying that Kelly, Joleon Lescott or Phil Jagielka are better players? The first of these three can't even get in a Liverpool team that finished 8th in the league. Lescott, who won the league with Man City and played well in England's opener against France, and Jagielka should be in the squad, especially given their performance together in the friendly against Norway, but taking Kelly is total nonsense. Ferdinand is a player in form at club level, and has played at the highest possible level of football. Kelly is far from that.

Hodgson's job was always going to be tough, and it keeps getting tougher. Taking over from Fabio Capello months before a major tournament; not having Wayne Rooney available for the first two games; and having to deal with injuries to Lampard, Barry and Cahill have all hindered the new England manager. But falling blindly into the FA's ridiculous politics could prove to be the defining factor of this tournament.
Matt Gregory

Total articles: 3

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