Ferdinand earns England call-up
Rio Ferdinand has earned his first England call-up under Roy Hodgson for the World Cup qualifiers with San Marino and Montenegro.
Hodgson cited "footballing reasons" for Ferdinand's exclusion in his squad for the Euro 2012 finals and he has remained out of his plans ever since.
The Football Association also confirmed that West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster had been recalled after reversing his decision to retire from international football.
Ferdinand won the last of his 81 caps against Switzerland at Wembley in June 2011 in a Euro 2012 qualifier.
His call-up comes at a time when Phil Jagielka is sidelined with an ankle injury, Joleon Lescott has only a bit-part role at Manchester City and question marks hover over Gary Cahill's form.
Ferdinand, 34, has been in outstanding form for Manchester United this season.
Foster made himself unavailable for his country towards the end of the 2010-11 campaign because of a back problem and other injury niggles.
Hodgson, who managed Foster last season when in charge at the Baggies, was unable to persuade him to make himself available for Euro 2012.
But he received a more positive response when again recently sounding out the 29-year-old.
Foster, Albion's player of the year last season, has again been in outstanding form in their push for a Europa League spot after signing a new five-year contract in the summer.
He won the last of his five England caps against France in November 2010 and will provide competition for Joe Hart.
Hodgson is currently without the services of injured Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy while Stoke's recent signing, Jack Butland, is likely to be required for European Under-21 Championship duty this summer.
Foster will also be reunited with goalkeeping coach, Dave Watson, whom he worked with during his spell at Birmingham.
The former Manchester United player spoke recently of his burning desire to play in a major tournament for England and is now clear of his past injury problems.
There are also recalls for Tottenham duo Michael Dawson and Scott Parker. Defender Dawson won his fourth and final cap to date in a 2-0 win over Wales at the Millennium Stadium in March 2011.
Midfielder Parker, meanwhile, has not appeared since England's exit from Euro 2012 at the hands of Italy. He missed the early part of this season after having surgery on the Achilles problem.
Hodgson gave a strong hint that Ferdinand could have a prominent role to play in the double-header coming up, and possibly beyond.
He said: "A player of Rio's calibre and also of Rio's age, you don't bring them into a squad as back-ups, you bring them into the squad or the team because you want them to make the team better, to give you a better chance of winning.
"So it wouldn't take too much guesswork to work out that he's in the squad in order to play rather than to make up the numbers.
"Like all players you select, you select them because you think they're capable of doing the job you want them to do. But who knows what the future holds? 2014 is still a long way off and if Rio is still going the way he is at the moment, in 2014 he is going to be a major candidate for the squad.
"He has been playing well and his team have been playing extremely well. I think this is the moment to select him because he certainly deserves it on current form."
England squad for World Cup qualifiers against San Marino on March 22 and
Montenegro on March 26:
Foster (West Brom), Hart (Manchester City), Forster (Celtic); Baines (Everton), Cahill (Chelsea), Cole (Chelsea), Dawson (Tottenham), Ferdinand (Manchester United), Johnson (Liverpool), Smalling ( Manchester United), Walker (Tottenham); Carrick (Manchester United), Cleverley (Manchester United), Gerrard (Liverpool), Lampard (Chelsea), Lennon (Tottenham), Milner (Manchester City), Osman (Everton), Parker (Tottenham), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Walcott (Arsenal), Young (Manchester United); Defoe (Tottenham), Rooney (Manchester United), Sturridge (Liverpool), Welbeck (Manchester United).