Rio Ferdinand recalled to England squad for World Cup qualifiers
Rio Ferdinand has been recalled to the England squad for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro.
The Manchester United defender's last England appearance was in the 2-2 draw against Switzerland in June 2011.
Ferdinand, 34, has 81 caps, having made his debut against Cameroon in 1997.
"It's a no brainer. We need a good centre-half. It's not really much more complicated than that," said manager Roy Hodgson.
"There's no sinister connection with his lack of selection in the past.
"He's playing well, his team are doing extremely well and this is the moment to select him because he deserves it on current form.
"Hopefully he can help us win the next two matches because that's the most important thing."
England play San Marino on Friday, 22 March, before travelling to Montenegro on Tuesday, 26 March in a game which could dictate who wins Group H.
Rio Ferdinand's England career
- 1997: Makes England debut v Cameroon at Wembley
- 1998: Named in squad for 1998 World Cup finals but does not play
- 2000: Left out of Euro 2000 squad
- 2002: Scores first England goal in 3-0 win over Denmark at 2002 World Cup
- 2004: Banned for eight months after missing a drugs test
- 2006: Plays five games at World Cup in Germany
- 2008: Captains England for first time in defeat by France in March - loses out to John Terry in battle for permanent skipper role
- 2010: Terry is stripped of captaincy and Ferdinand is given the armband but injury rules him out of the 2010 World Cup
- 2011: Makes his 81st appearance in a Euro 2012 qualifier against Switzerland
- 2013: Recalled by England
West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster, 29, is also named for the first time since asking former manager Fabio Capello not to pick him in May 2011, while 20-year-old fellow keeper Jack Butland drops to the Under-21 squad.
"When you have a goalkeeper of Ben Foster's stature it's a great pity when he's not available. I think for Ben it's just good he's decided after a long absence that he wants to play again," Hodgson added.
Tottenham duo Scott Parker, 32, and Michael Dawson, 29, are also recalled.
Dawson's last international appearance was against Wales in March 2011. It is the first time he has been selected by Hodgson.
Injury problems have kept Parker out of the England set-up since last summer's European Championship finals.
Ferdinand's England career had looked to be over after he was left out of the squad for the Euros in Poland and Ukraine.
That came against a backdrop of suggestions there could be a potential conflict with John Terry, who was due to stand trial over a charge of racially abusing Ferdinand's brother Anton.
Terry was cleared of the charge after the tournament, in July. However he was later banned and fined by the FA over the incident - but not before announcing his retirement from international football.
The England manager later denied making the comment.
Hodgson also dismissed the notion there could be friction between Ferdinand and Chelsea's Ashley Cole after Ferdinand was found guilty of improper conduct and fined £45,000 by the Football Association for responding to a tweet describing the left-back as a "choc ice" in August 2012.
The term relates to the black and white nature of a choc ice and can imply someone is being black on the outside and white on the inside.
"They were very good friends but we're talking about an England football team, not individuals," Hodgson commented.
"I would expect the pair of them to do their job. I don't envisage any problems. If there are, I'll deal with them and I'm hoping the long-term friendship will remerge and anything else will be forgotten."
Hodgson said Ferdinand could feature at the World Cup finals in Brazil in 2014 were England to qualify.
He added: "You select players because you think they're capable of doing the job you want them to do.
"Rio is the right man to help us in these games. I can't make guarantees for the future - 2014 is a long way off - but if he's playing like he is now he'll be a candidate to be in the squad."
Hodgson revealed he left Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott out of the squad because he was not playing regularly for the Premier League champions.
And he expressed his frustration at losing Jack Wilshere to an ankle injury after the Arsenal midfielder had produced a man-of-the-match performance in England's 2-1 win over Brazil - their most recent match.
"It's a blow, no question," he said. "It's disappointing for Jack as well.
"He did well in a cameo appearance against Sweden and was man of the match against Brazil.
"Not to be able to use him is a major blow but these thing happen."
Goalkeepers: Ben Foster, Joe Hart, Fraser Forster.
Defenders: Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Michael Dawson, Rio Ferdinand, Glen Johnson, Chris Smalling, Kyle Walker.
Midfielders: Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Aaron Lennon, James Milner, Leon Osman, Scott Parker, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Ashley Young.
Strikers: Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck.