Rio Ferdinand says he is “baffled” by Gareth Southgate’s decision to keep Tottenham’s Eric Dier and Wolves ‘ Conor Coady in his England squad.
Both players have been included in the 26-man selection for the three World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland.
Southgate has not been afraid to drop some big names from his latest line-up, with Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold the most notable omission.
Alexander-Arnold’s recent form for club and country was behind Southgate’s decision, but Dier and Coady have kept their places despite the struggles of their respective club sides.
And Ferdinand feels Everton duo Michael Keane and Ben Godfrey should have been given the nod instead.
“I was a bit baffled with the selection of defenders,” Ferdinand told BT Sport ahead of Everton’s FA Cup clash with Man City on Saturday.
“You look at Dier, he’s not a regular at his team, you think how has he actually snuck in there? Coady hasn’t had the best of seasons.
“Godfrey has come in, hit the ground running, and he’s been immense, played in multiple positions at the back. A young player, you think going to a tournament to get experience – I did that, the experience I got was phenomenal.
“Not only him – Michael Keane has been one of the most outstanding centre halves in the league this year.”
There were no real surprises in Southgate’s selection of central defenders, with Man Utd’s Harry Maguire, Man City’s John Stones and Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings all earning call-ups.
But Ferdinand questioned another of the England manager’s choices.
“Konsa at Aston Villa is the best centre back at his club, but Tyrone Mings is ahead of him for England,” he added.
Southgate has always maintained that players must be playing regularly to be involved in his plans and would not be picked on reputation alone.
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But fellow pundit Joleon Lescott was in agreement with Ferdinand over the way the latest squad had been chosen.
“There’s a lot of inconsistencies in the process,” Lescott said. “You hear the reasons for Trent not being in there but then you analyse the selection process and it doesn’t really add up.
“The only hindrance for Godfrey is probably that he’s played in a number of positions – if he’d played centre half for the majority of this season we would have been able to see the qualities he had.”
West Brom’s Sam Johnston and Villa’s Ollie Watkins were the only new inclusions in the Three Lions squad, as they kick off their qualifying campaign with the visit of San Marino to Wembley on Thursday.