England manager Roy Hodgson is set to rule out any Indian summer to Rio Ferdinand's international career.
Ferdinand was convinced his omission from Euro 2012 was a direct result of Hodgson's decision to select John Terry and a belief it would be too toxic to consider choosing both veteran centre-halves. With Terry now retired, claiming his position has been made "untenable" by the FA, in theory the way is clear for a Ferdinand recall.
But, from Sir Alex Ferguson, to Gary Neville, to reported chat between Hodgson and random London Underground travellers, the vibes have been negative. And when Hodgson unveils his squad at lunchtime on Thursday for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland, Ferdinand is not expected to be picked.
With Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka - who hardly covered themselves in glory as a pairing against Ukraine last month when Terry missed out through injury - and Gary Cahill virtually certain to be involved, the question of who actually will be Hodgson's fourth central defender is rather tricky.
The obvious next choice would have been Tottenham's Steven Caulker. The 20-year-old was a member of Great Britain's Olympic team and then an unused substitute in Bern in August when he received his first senior call-up for the friendly win over Italy.
Hodgson was at Old Trafford along with assistant Gary Neville on Saturday.
He would therefore have seen a compelling argument for Caulker's selection given Ferdinand was poor against Tottenham, in stark contrast to Bristol City's 2010-11 player of the year, who was excellent in repelling Robin van Persie and company.
However, Caulker's presence in Stuart Pearce's Under-21 squad for the European Championship play-off against Serbia has confused the picture somewhat.
It is not beyond the realms of possibility that Caulker could also be selected for the seniors, and not link up until after Thursday's first leg given England do not require four orthodox central defenders to beat San Marino.
That would involve a climbdown from Hodgson's previously stated commitment to ensuring he had the players he wanted with him at all times.
- Rio Ferdinand
- Gary Neville
- John Terry