16 Mar 2013

Possible tension between Ferdinand and Cole

10:02 am on 16 March 2013

England manager Roy Hodgson says he has no fears about asking Rio Ferdinand to play alongside Ashley Cole for the national team, despite concerns about their relationship.

Ferdinand, 34, has been recalled to the England squad by Hodgson, 21 months after his last international appearance.

The Manchester United centre-back's relationship with Cole has been under scrutiny ever since the Chelsea left-back testified in support of club-mate John Terry, who had been accused of racially abusing Ferdinand's brother, Anton.

Rio Ferdinand was subsequently fined by the Football Association for a Twitter message in which he referred to Cole as a "choc ice" - a slang term used to describe someone who is perceived to be 'black on the outside, white on the inside'.

Ferdinand insisted he only intended to describe Cole as "fake", but the feud lingered.

The pair have not lined up alongside each other for England since Ferdinand's last appearance against Switzerland in June 2011, but Hodgson expects them to put any differences they may have to one side.

Asked if he was worried that Cole might have concerns about playing with Ferdinand, the England manager replied: "Let's hope he doesn't. I'll cross the bridge when I come to it."

England will expect to beat San Marino on Thursday, but the trip to Group H leaders Montenegro the following week is a different proposition.

Defeat for England could leave them five points behind their rivals, with only the top team in each pool guaranteed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.