Ferdinand critical of Hodgson approach

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Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has criticised England manager Roy Hodgson's approach during the European Championship.

Ferdinand failed to make the 23-man squad for the European finals in Poland and Ukraine after Hodgson overlooked him in favour of, initially, John Terry and later Liverpool rookie Martin Kelly.

Despite a soild start to the tournament that saw the Three Lions top their group and secure a quarter-final tie with Italy, there were calls throughout to give less-experienced players including Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who started the first game against France, more of an opportunity.

And following England's failure to defeat the Azzurri on penalties, the 33-year-old believes Hodgson did not use the younger players to their potential.

"I am a fan of The Ox and I wanted to see more of him but in the end he finished up as a spectator. Phil Jones is one of the most adaptable players we have in our country and where was he?" he said as reported by The Sun.

"When we need to take the ball from midfield, run 40 yards with it and put the other team on the back foot, he is the man for the job. Instead, we stayed cautious and Jordan Henderson was used instead. That's not a criticism of Jordan, he is a different player to Phil, but I thought it showed we were being too conservative."

Although Hodgson's squad involved nine players aged 25 or younger, the former West Bromwich Albion boss has endured criticism and has promised to use younger players in the future, an issue Ferdinand agrees with.

The former West Ham United trainee said: "I'm reading a lot of stuff about how it's time to get the youngsters in and all of that but you only find out if they can do it when you throw them in there. What did we learn about Alex and Phil at this tournament?

"Do we know how much influence Alex can have on a game in a finals? He did fairly well against France, so why not persist with him and let him grow into it?

"As for Phil, we will now have to wait until the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, provided we qualify, to see how good he can be at the highest level. Expectations were low so the manager had a free shot to find out about our youngsters and I feel it was a missed opportunity."

However, one youngster that was given an opportunity and impressed Ferdinand was Red Devils team-mate Danny Welbeck, who was experiencing his first major tournament.

"The only time we really kept the ball properly was when Danny Welbeck dropped short to collect it and linked the play. But, usually, he was having to stay up and wasn't allowed to drop too much because we had set out a certain way with a 4-4-2 which didn't offer a great deal of flexibility," he added.

"It's OK saying we were very good defensively and hard to beat but if you set out to be defensive then that's your first priority. I'd love to see us running at other teams. I want to see Alex and Theo [Walcott] and Adam Johnson, who I thought should have gone too, causing problems instead of worrying about covering back as the first thought."

By Matt Maltby