March 21, 2013
Rio Ferdinand (right) hasn't played for England since June 2011.
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Rio Ferdinand has defended his decision to fly to Doha and appear as a television analyst for England's World Cup qualifier against San Marino, days after ruling himself out of the match over fitness issues.

The Manchester United defender cited the need to follow a "detailed and pre-planned program'' of fitness as the reason for missing Friday's game at San Marino and Tuesday's qualifier against Montenegro, which would have marked his international return after a two-year absence.

Instead, he'll be in Qatar, visiting the Aspire training academy before working for Al-Jazeera.

Ferdinand says in a Twitter post that it's "no different from what I done on the last 10day international break,'' and says it was "punditry thrown in for a game I would have watched anyway.''

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