By VINCE MADURI
Roy Hodgson has announced the 26-man England squad that will take on San Marino and Montenegro March 22 and 26.
After leaving Rio Ferdinand out of the team for Euro 2012, citing football reasons, Hodgson has invited the Manchester United defender back into the national team for the first time since June 2011 when England took on Switzerland.
Ferdinand is called into the team after injuries to Phil Jones and Phil Jagielka have left England thin in central defense.
Another addition was West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster, who announced he was coming out of international retirement a few days ago and will compete for the backup job behind Manchester City’s Joe Hart.
Here are some other soccer stories from around the globe to keep your day going:
ARSENE WENGER SAYS ENGLISH CLUBS’ CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PERFORMANCES ARE ‘WAKE UP CALL’
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says English clubs are no longer at the top of European competition in response to the respective teams’ performances, including his own.
“It’s a massive disappointment for English football,” Wenger said. “For a number of years we’ve not had that. I think it’s a massive wake-up call for us. It means the rest of Europe has caught up on us. We have to take that into consideration when we think about the future of the Premier League.”
This will be the first time since 1995-96 English clubs will play no further part in the top European competition following the round of 16.
TITO VILANOVA WILL STAY AT BARCELONA NEXT SEASON
Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova will stay on with the club next season, according to sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta.
Vilanova replaced Pep Guardiola last summer after the legendary coach decided to step away from the game for a year. However, Guardiola’s replacement has missed the majority of Barcelona matches this year undergoing treatment for throat cancer following surgery in December.
There is no doubt, according to Fox Soccer, Vilanova will return to Barcelona, as Zubizarreta told a Catalan radio station “Yes, absolutely,” when asked if the coach would return.
NURI SAHIN BLASTS LIVERPOOL MANAGER BRENDAN RODGERS
Former Liverpool midfielder Nuri Sahin criticized manager Brendan Rodgers for playing the Turkish international out of position during his time with the club.
“”I did not fail at Liverpool. Brendan Rodgers wanted me to play as a number 10. But I do not play behind the strikers,” Sahin told AS. “I talked to him and asked him why he was playing me there. It is not my real position. The coach could not answer me. Still, no regrets. To play at Anfield was a wonderful experience. And maybe if I had not gone there I would not have been able to return to Borussia Dortmund. For that, I am happy. Thank God I have left Brendan Rodgers.”
Sahin joined Liverpool toward the end of the summer transfer window on loan from Real Madrid, but failed to last a full season at the club, appearing in only 12 matches before being sent to Borussia Dortmund.