England manager Roy Hodgson made a gaffe this week when he told tube passengers that the England career of Rio Ferdinand was over.

SO England manager Roy Hodgson made a gaffe this week when he apparently blurted out to passengers on the Jubilee Line that Rio Ferdinand’s England career had er… reached the end of the line.

According to the Mirror, the 65-year-old from Croydon reportedly said: “He hasn’t played for England for quite a while.  I have to say it is over for him and England.

“It has got to be the end of the road.  He is pushing 34 and hasn’t played for England for a long, long time.”

                                TUBE TALK: Rio's England hopes have come to the end of the line

Now it’s not the most ideal way for Rio — capped 81 times — to hear his England dreams have come to a halt but it’s hardly come out of the blue.

Whilst the 6ft 4″ defender has seemingly put the injury problems which kept him out of England’s disasterous 2010 World Cup campaign, I still can’t help but feel had Manchester United had the option of a fully fit Nemanja Vidić, would Ferdinand have played as often has he has over recent seasons?  (68 times in domestic and European football in case you’re wondering)

Rio was once capable of a surging run from the heart of defence, comfortable with the ball at his feet and a constant threat.  Ferdinand at his prime was an absolute joy to watch and without doubt one of the best in the world.  That’s why Alex Ferguson stuck his hand in his pocket for £30million in 2002.

But as the eyes of the world watched Old Trafford last week, the 33-year-old from Peckham seemed to have fallen foul of age as he looked sloppy and slow against a faster, younger, more cut-throat spurs side.

To be fair to Ferdinand, for Tottenham’s second goal there wasn’t a great deal he could have done about it… well at least not when he had poorly positioned himself so that he was locked in a head-to-head race with Gareth Bale, a man who ran 100m in 11.4 seconds aged 14.

More worryingly was the third.

A confident, younger Rio would probably have cut the ball out in the air, but the minute he decided to let it bounce United were in trouble.  Jermaine Defoe, another nimble chap who is somewhat rejuvenated of late, was not only faster than Ferdinand but managed to shrug him off easily to feed Bale, whose saved shot fell to Dempsey and Tottenham’s third.

Yes you heard me right, 5ft 5″ Defoe out muscled Rio’s challenge to play a ball that ultimately led to a goal.

Now I’m all for having a bad day at the office, but my concern is that Rio’s pace has quite evidently deserted him and he has seemingly yet to learn how to adapt his game to a life without the legs that were once so pivotal to his style of play.

A fully fit Vidic and Phil Jones is a strong sounding future, where that leaves Rio who knows.

He certainly still has a part to play in the game, no one plays over 400 times for Manchester United without being of a certain calibre — he’s just overtaken Peter Schmeichel and is nearing Dennis Law and Steve Bruce’s appearance records — but Rio is not an England candidate by any stretch of the imagination anyone.

Phil Jagielka, Joleon Lescott, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Ryan Shawcross, Gary Cahill, Steven Taylor, and Steven Caulker are just a few names that could step into the vacant CB role that has been left since Terry decided to call it quits.

It is time Roy looks to do what so many before him have promised and actually concentrate on youth and building an England squad that can move together for more than a tournament at a time.

Rio might be disappointed to hear his dream of an England call up is all but over, but surely he, much like I am, cannot be shocked by the news…