Rio Ferdinand cut for England World Cup KO

Rio must raise his game (credit: bbows)

Fears over Rio Ferdinand's poor run of form have caused bookmakers to cut the odds on Fabio Capello dropping the Manchester United defender from his World Cup plans.

The 30-year-old has been a lynchpin at the heart of the Three Lions' back four in picking up 73 caps but has faltered in several high-profile fixtures of late.

Ferdinand gifted Craig Bellamy a goal in the Manchester Derby, was at fault in the incident which saw Robert Green sent off in the Ukraine and could not cope with the speed of Fernando Torres at Anfield.

Even Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson seems to have questioned his divine right to a place in Capello's squad for the trip to South Africa.

Fergie is quoted in The Sun as saying: "He has to get good form. That's an important issue for the coach to pick the right team.

"In defence you've maybe got more options than other positions. He'll need to get his form right."

William Hill certainly feel the pressure is mounting on Ferdinand, who has also come under scrutiny over an extensive list of off-field activities in other sections of the national press.

Hills have cut the odds on Rio failing to start England's first match at the World Cup finals from 6/1 to 4/1 and also now go 8/1 from 10/1 that he is not even part of Capello's 23-man squad.

"Rio's recent form has been far from vintage and he is fortunate that most of his serious rivals for the England place seem to be injury prone," said spokesman Graham Sharpe.

On a more positive note, Hills make Joe Cole 7/4 to be in the starting line-up for the Three Lions' opening match in South Africa following his return from injury at Chelsea.

"Joe made an impressive return against Blackburn and will have every chance of re-establishing himself in time for the World Cup," added Sharpe.

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