Defender rubbishes concerns regarding his fitnessManchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand insists that he is as fit as a fiddle, and will be "full of energy" at the 2010 World Cup.
The skipper's fitness levels have been called into question throughout the course of the season, with concerns as to whether or not he will be able to withstand the rigours of playing in the showpiece event in South Africa following a long, injury-plagued title chase with the Red Devils.
There has also been some speculation that Three Lions boss Fabio Capello called up Liverpool's Jamie Carragher - who came out of a self-imposed international retirement - as a potential replacement if the 31-year-old centre-half was unable to shake off his injuries.
However, Ferdinand is adamant that he is fit and raring to lead England in the biggest event in world football.
"Listen, I’m fit," he said in a interview with The Daily Mail. "It has never even crossed my mind that injury would put me out of the tournament. My back troubles happened before Christmas, so I knew the time scale.
"There’s been a lot of frustration for me at my club and it’s been a disappointing season all round. But if there is any silver lining to be found, it’s that I’ll be fresh and full of energy at the World Cup."
When quizzed as to whether he would try to make his way into the final squad even if he was carrying an injury, the Three Lions skipper said: "No, I’d never put myself in a position where I was wearing an England shirt if I was less than physically ready.
"This is the World Cup finals. You can’t play at the same level if you are carrying trouble around like that. I wouldn’t be doing myself or my country justice if I tried."
The former Leeds United defender then shed some light on a persistent back injury that saw him miss several games at club level this season, admitting that his mobility had been greatly reduced during the peak of his problems.
"In layman's terms, the ligaments in my back were loose and needed to be tightened up," Ferdinand said. "It was affecting my stability. And when the procedure was complete, I had to wait for the area around them to heal.
"Before, my mobility was probably 50 per cent less than it should have been. Rather than keeping playing on, I had to take a step back and do all my rehabilitation. That's all done now and I feel good."
Capello has had a fair amount of problems with regard to his defence, and the latest injury to former captain John Terry coupled with Carragher coming out of retirement had raised questions as to whether the back-line would remain solid in South Africa.
"If you believed some of the stuff, we've gone from having an array of centre-halves who are among the best there is, to having people who aren't fit, out of form and who shouldn't even be going - well, it's just not true," he said.
"We're talking about players who, a matter of months ago, were dead certainties to get into any team in the world, let alone the England side. And they still are. That's what a World Cup brings, it hypes up opinions, it puts individuals under the microscope and sometimes issues get blown out of proportion."
No trip to South Africa is complete without a visit to its most beautiful and sunniest city. Durban offers much more than sandy beaches, safaris, casinos and the World Cup, for information on what to do and see, please click here.
Become a fan of Goal.com UK's Facebook fan page for all the latest news and insight into everything related to the beautiful game!