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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 October, 2003, 04:54 GMT 05:54 UK
Neville savages FA
Gary Neville
Neville says Ferdinand should have been given anonymity
An angry Gary Neville believes Rio Ferdinand was "hung out to dry" by the English Football Association following his failure to attend a routine drugs test.

Ferdinand was dropped from the squad to face Turkey in a vital Euro 2004 qualifier and could face a ban as a result of his misdemeanour.

But in his column in The Times newspaper, Neville says his Manchester United club-mate has not been given a fair hearing.

"There is no doubt in my mind that Rio Ferdinand was prejudged by the Football Association," wrote Neville.

"Yes, he missed a drugs test, but he deserved a hearing before people started passing sentence.

"Other players have missed drug tests and not been banned, but Rio was punished even before he had the chance to explain himself. How is that not a prejudgment?"

The FA has denied making Ferdinand's situation public knowledge, but Neville insists the England squad felt let down at their team-mate's lack of anonymity.

"On the issue of confidentiality, the players felt extremely strongly," added Neville.

"The FA denied leaking Rio's name, but did they really believe that it would remain a secret when the press knew that the squad announcement had been delayed by 48 hours because of something serious?"

Neville has also defended the England squad's backing of Ferdinand, which prompted fears they would boycott Saturday's game in Istanbul.

We did what we believed was right for a team-mate who had been badly let down
Gary Neville

"Ask me what qualities distinguish the English and I would say honesty, fairness, hard work and loyalty," Neville continued.

"I believe that the England team and the immediate staff lived up to those ideals from the moment we met up last Tuesday right up to the final whistle on Saturday night.

"The United players in the England squad knew we had to do something and we were pleased that, when we turned up at the team hotel, we were not the only ones who felt strongly.

"Last week we did what we believed was right for a team-mate who had been badly let down.

"None of us condones drugs, none of us believes that drugs tests should be taken lightly, but we also believe that Rio deserved our loyalty when he was hung out to dry."

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