After Roy Hodgson named his 23-man squad for this summer's European Championships in Poland and Ukraine yesterday, the England manager was forced to explain the thinking behind his decision to omit Rio Ferdinand, and justify his inclusion of John Terry.
The 33-year-old Manchester United defender was the most notable absentee from Wednesday's announcement, and whilst Hodgson admitted it was tough to overlook the former Three Lions captain, it was based purely on football reasons.
Ferdinand has been capped 81 times for his country, and has been a regular part of the international set-up for the past 15 years. However, his recent track record has seen the United stopper make just one appearance for England in the past 12 months.
"It was purely a footballing decision," Hodgson explained in yesterday's press conference. "Rio is a man that I both respect as a player and as a person. I don't know him well personally, but I have seen enough of him over the years to realise what a fine footballer he is and what a good person he is.
"But I had to make a footballing decision and to decide on the basis of what I have seen in recent months, and it was influenced to some extent by the fact that Rio hasn't played so much since the World Cup and has only played once for England in the last year.
"On a footballing basis, I wanted people like (Phil) Jones in the squad because he helps balance out for me at right-back in the absence of Kyle Walker.
"So it's purely a footballing decision and it was a hard phone call to make because you hate to disappoint people, but I hope Rio can accept my decision and understand that it was based purely on football and nothing else."
Terry's inclusion has raised a few eyebrows with the ongoing race-row between the Chelsea defender and Ferdinand's brother Anton, following an incident at Loftus Road back in October, leading to suggestions that it could also have played a part in the Old Trafford stalwart's omission. But, Hodgson insisted that the case did not come into consideration when he was putting his squad together.
"I have spoken to both of them, I had to do that. I left the decision to talk to both of them until after the final game of the season because there may not have been a need to talk to either of them because there might have been an injury or whatever. But in the last couple of days I have spoken to both of them and explained to them why I came to this decision.
"If we take the court case first of all, that's obviously very unfortunate for him but at the moment we must emphasise that he is an innocent man until such time as proven guilty. As a result, my decision with John Terry was again based purely on footballing matters.
"I was given a free hand as to the squad I picked and I realised that when I selected him there would be people who raised their eyebrows, but that is the decision I have made and that's the decision I shall live with.
"I believe that John Terry, especially in the latter part of the season, has played very well. I know you are going to come back and say he shouldn't have done what he did in Barcelona, but I am looking over a longer period than that and I think he has played well.
"I think he has played an important part in Chelsea's FA Cup final victory and an important part in them reaching the Champions League final. Therefore, I selected him because I think he is the man for the job. I'm hoping and believing that he will help us win matches."
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