Redknapp leaps to Ferdinand defence

Harry Redknapp has launched a staunch defence of Rio Ferdinand, labelling the QPR defender a “top-class person” despite his three-match Football Association ban.

The Rangers boss hailed Ferdinand’s character, in spite of the former England defender being banned and fined £25,000 for comments made on social network Twitter.

The ex-Manchester United centre-back was “severely warned as to his future conduct” after the FA dished out the punishment on Wednesday, relating to an alleged sexist tweet.

Ferdinand is understood to have used the slang term “sket”, taken to mean a promiscuous woman, in response to a derogatory message received on Twitter.

While Redknapp said the club are still weighing up whether to appeal, the Rangers manager believes there is no need to talk to Ferdinand about his conduct.

“We’ve not seen the FA report yet so we really can’t comment,” said the former Tottenham boss.

“We’re not sure exactly what he’s done and what the charge is and what the reasons are behind it.

“So until we see that, I’ve not seen it, we’re not in a position to comment on it.”

Backing Ferdinand’s behaviour, Redknapp admitted it would be a blow to lose the experienced defender for three matches.

“Well he does know how to behave off the pitch, I’ve not had many footballers behave better off the pitch than Rio, on the pitch and off the pitch,” said Redknapp.

“I don’t have any problems with the way Rio conducts himself. I haven’t met many classier footballers in my time than Rio Ferdinand, he’s a top-class person.

“I don’t read Twitter, I don’t even know what it is, I wouldn’t know how to read it and it doesn’t interest me one little bit.”

Redknapp refused to rule playmaker Adel Taarabt out of contention for Saturday’s Barclays Premier League trip to Chelsea.

The Rangers boss said he pulled the Morocco forward out of reserve team action on Tuesday, preferring to put him to work in full squad training instead.

Redknapp said Taarabt vowed to fight for full fitness in a training-ground chat on Monday, following the pair’s drawn-out public spat over the 25-year-old’s condition.

“He came to see me on Monday and we had a great chat,” said Redknapp.

“He admitted he needed to get fitter: he wants to get fit, wants to play, wants to get back in the team, and that’s all I needed to hear from him.

“I felt having spoken to him I didn’t want to stick him into the reserves as the only senior player amongst the kids, because Sean (Wright-Phillips) wasn’t going to play.

“So instead he came out and worked, and worked very, very hard with the first-team group, he put in a real shift.

“I’m delighted with the way he’s trained, his attitude and I was pleased with the chat we had.

“He held his hand up and said ’I do want to play and I can get fitter, and I want to get back in the team’.

“If it turns him round and he comes back, shows everyone what he can do, then it will be great.

“He’s got fantastic ability, and it would be one the great crimes in football if he doesn’t realise that.

“I wouldn’t hesitate to put him in the squad (to play Chelsea), he’s trained well.”

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