England coach Roy Hodgson has made his clearest statement yet on the reasons why he left Rio Ferdinand out of his Euro 2012 squad, even after Gary Cahill was ruled out of Euro 2012 last weekend.
Speaking exclusively to ITV's Gabriel Clarke, Hodgson said that he would only have picked the Manchester United defender as a starting centre half, and not as a squad player.
"Rio Ferdinand for me is not a player that you call up as a substitute, or to cover for the players that you have," Hodgson said.
The England boss has come under fire for selecting Liverpool's Martin Kelly after Gary Cahill's injury against Belgium, but Hodgson was keen to stress the advantage of picking Kelly over somebody of Ferdinand's stature.
"We turned to Martin Kelly because I knew he was going to be someone who would be very useful to us," Hodgson said. "He's very happy to be here knowing that his chances of playing a big part in the tournament are quite small. You don't turn to people like Rio Ferdinand for that."
Ferdinand's absence from the England squad has continued to come under scrutiny, despite Hodgson's assertion last month that the 81-times-capped centre half was omitted for "footballing reasons".
The former England captain has lately admitted that his international career is effectively over after being snubbed by the England boss for this summer's European Championships.
Watch an extended version of this interview before ITV's coverage of England v France on Monday 11th June from 4.15pm