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Man Utd legend Rio Ferdinand defends Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood and says axed England duo need help not punishment

RIO FERDINAND says Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood need help not punishment for their England shame.

Foden and Greenwood were sent home in disgrace after breaking strict Covid-19 rules by organising a secret hotel rendezvous with two Icelandic women while on international duty.

Boss Gareth Southgate will speak to the pair about their behaviour amid calls for him to axe the duo from his next squad as a way of making them pay for their crime.

But Ferdinand, himself dropped from an England squad as a teenager after drink-driving, claims the teenage pair need guidance and support rather than hauling over the coals.

He said: “You can’t sit here and cane them and hammer them and say they’re out of order and should be banned for five squads. Help them, help them understand.

“All these people that are on social media, pundits or people in the media saying that they should be punished and this and that – no, help them, help educate them.”

Speaking on BT Sport, Ferdinand added: “If I look at myself as a young kid when I came into the game, 17 or 18-years-old in and around the first team, understanding your responsibilities is very difficult so I can really sympathise with the likes of Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood.

“I made many mistakes growing up and you don’t understand you’re in the spotlight, and you’re sitting there looking across the table sometimes at your mates and thinking ‘they’re the same age as me, they’re doing worse than me’.

“But understand when you go with England, when you’re in these big teams the spotlight is on you and you have got to get that realisation ‘actually, I can’t do things like other players or other people at my age who aren’t in the spotlight or at my level’.

“What 18-year-old isn’t going to make a mistake, it’s just they are in the spotlight.

“That’s why I took up a mentoring role. Helping these young players, prepare them for this situation because I’ve been through that, I’ve seen it, I’ve made mistakes.

“I got banned from playing a game for making a mistake, also I was in a situation where I got into an argument and fracas with a security guard when I was on duty with England and it gets into the paper and into the public domain.

“Everyone is going ‘how, where, why etc?’ and you do feel like the world’s caving in on you and you are think ‘oh my God, everything’s on top of me’.

“It’s about learning from them mistakes.

“It’s not as serious as everyone is making out, or is making you feel. But importantly now, acknowledge the mistake you have made, hold your hands up yes, and now it’s about moving on and moving forward.

“And actually really understanding the responsibilities you have, whether you like it or not, you have bigger responsibilities than other 18-year-olds.

“Let’s not forget they are two of our most talented young kids coming through so, give them the support.

“We want the best players coming through, yes they’ve made mistakes so pick them up, dust them down and let’s go again.

“They’ve been put in the spotlight, they are on the front pages now as well as the back pages, early in their career. It’s important they have got the right people around them.”

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