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The former Chelsea assistant manager has painted a bleak picture for the Three Lions' future following Sunday's announcement, with Gary Lineker branding it a "sensible decision"

Ray Wilkins believes the absence of the “outstanding” John Terry is a “massive blow” to England’s chances of qualifying for World Cup 2014 after the former captain decided to retire from international football.

The centre-back cited the Football Association's decision to hold a hearing into the allegations of racism against QPR's Anton Ferdinand, despite being previously cleared by a jury, had made his position in the England setup "untenable".

And Wilkins feels that the task of replacing Terry will prove "very, very difficult" for Roy Hodgson.

"He's an outstanding player and in the dressing room he's an outstanding character," Wilkins told Sky Sports News.

"On the pitch he does what the manager requires and that's to lead from the front. [Former England manager] Fabio Capello had a massive fall-out with the FA over John because he realised how important he was to our national team.

"It's a massive loss. You will see the loss it will be when John finally has to hang up his boots for Chelsea. To replace a character who has been in that dressing room for such a long period - and has performed at such a consistent level for that period - is very, very difficult indeed.

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"I feel very sad for Roy Hodgson in that Roy made it pretty evident he wanted John to be there and be his centre-half. We've got to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil and this is a massive blow.

Wilkins went on to note that England had many options at the back; with the likes of Joleon Lescott, Phil Jagielka, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Rio Ferdinand all competing for selection.

"We have loads of options, loads of very good young footballers coming through, and also Rio Ferdinand doing a very good job at Manchester United," Wilkins continued.

"But do we have the character of John Terry within these people I'm talking about? My answer to that is probably, 'no, we don't', because he doesn't only care about his own performance - he cares about other people's performances as well. I don't think we've got the characters about now like John Terry."

Elsewhere, former England captain Gary Lineker tweeted: "[Terry] says FA have made his position untenable. [It was] probably a sensible decision.”

Terry amassed 78 caps for his country since making his debut in 2003, alongwith two spells as captain - most recently being stripped in Febuary 2012 by the FA in a decision which led to Capello's resignation as boss.

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