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Football | England

Hodgson's squad under the microscope



Roy Hodgson said he would need to grow a thicker skin to cope with a very demanding British media and the new England manager may want to do so in a hurry after naming his first squad on Wednesday.

Hodgson's appointment at the start of the month raised eyebrows in many quarters, particularly in the notoriously vicious tabloid press who had championed Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Redknapp as Fabio Capello's replacement.

The line was that the experienced Hodgson had a point to prove after a less than impressive stint in charge of Liverpool and England's new man was left in no doubt on Wednesday at just how much scrutiny he will be under.

After selecting his 23-man squad for next month's European Championship in Poland and Ukraine, Hodgson found himself answering a barrage of questions as to why he had left out Manchester United defender.

An exasperated Hodgson, who was succinct and thoughtful throughout his news conference, could barely hide his frustration.

"Are we ever going to get off Rio Ferdinand?" he asked.

"There are 23 men in the squad, we're preparing for the future and we seem to be discussing one man until the cows come home."

Warming to his task, Hodgson sought to put in his place one reporter who had informed him that Ferdinand had played more games this season than Chelsea's John Terry, who was named in the squad despite being stripped of the captaincy in February and faces a court trial after the tournament.

"I had to pick a squad of defenders that I wanted to take to the Euros and for purely footballing reasons on this occasion I decided not to select him," Hodgson repeated.

"There is no question of me being aware that he has been playing games for United and I'm not prepared to go down the route that he is not capable of playing one game after another."

Hodgson is in for a charmed life with Britain's tabloid newspapers, if the headline that greeted him on his appointment is anything to go by.

The Sun were admonished by the English FA for mocking Hodgson's slight speech impediment, but worse could be in store if England fare badly at Euro 2012.

Bobby Robson once woke up to "In the name of Allah, go" after a draw against Saudi Arabia, Graham Taylor was branded a "turnip" and Steve McClaren was dubbed the "Wally with the brolly" after he used an umbrella to keep out the rain in his final game in charge.

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