Rio Ferdinand defends Qatar trip after pulling out of England squad

The 34-year-old defender cited his need to follow a strict training regime after withdrawing, but has travelled to commentate on the Three Lions' clash with San Marino
Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has dismissed criticism of his decision to fly to Qatar in order to work as a pundit on England's upcoming clash with San Marino.

The 34-year-old withdrew from Roy Hodgson's squad for the World Cup qualifying double-header against the minnows Montenegro, citing his need to follow an "intricate pre-planned programme" to stay fit.

However, the Peckham-born centre-back was widely criticised when it emerged that he would travel to the Middle East during the international break in order to comment on Friday's game on television.

But Ferdinand has since taken to Twitter in order to defend his actions, writing: "I've flown out for some pre-planned downtime...with a bit of punditry thrown in for a game I would have watched anyway.

"Haters are gonna hate...also assume everything...although it must be the gospel truth based on assumptions.

"No different from what I did in the last 10 day international break...thank you guys."

Ferdinand won the last of his 81 England caps during a Euro 2012 qualifier against Switzerland back in 2011.