Roy Hodgson is dismissing claims he told fellow London underground passengers that Rio Ferdinand’s England career is over.
Reports suggested the England manager fielded questions about the defender’s future on his way to The Emirates Stadium yesterday evening.
However, Hodgson insisted his comments were blown out of proportion and issued an apology to the Manchester United player.
“I am disappointed that a stray conversation has been reported in that way,” he said.
“I didn’t say Rio’s career was over. I might have admitted, foolishly I guess, and I only have myself to blame, that I wasn’t going to choose him in this squad.”
Hodgson explained: “All I remember was that I was talking to quite a lot of people on the tube and one guy said ‘is Rio in the next squad?’
“I think I might have said ‘I don’t think so’ and that is about as far as I went.
“But I shouldn’t say that of course. It’s a mistake and I need to apologise for it.”
England’s squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Poland and San Marino was announced this afternoon, with Ferdinand’s name absent.
Following his controversial exclusion from Hodgson’s Euro 2012 squad, the defender’s England future is unclear and this latest blow may be decisive.
However, the manager insisted the decision – as with Ferdinand’s Euro 2012 omission – is for the right reasons: “The bottom line is I am sticking to my guns.
“I am staying with the players I selected for the Euros and I am looking to the future.”