RIO Ferdinand is set to get an earlier-than-expected opportunity to cement his England future. The cultured West Ham defender is being pencilled in for a centre-back slot in the first of England's European Championship qualifying matches against Sweden in Stockholm next Saturday. Ferdinand will be given his golden opportunity due to the uncertainty over Tony Adams, who is currently injured and has said this will possibly be his last season as a player. England coach Glenn Hoddle, an ardent admirer of the sweeper system, sees Ferdinand as an ideal candidate to take that role and help his team build from the back. Adams may also be taking a back seat for another reason. Hoddle hopes the furore over his World Cup diary will have run its course by the time England take the field in Sweden but friction is sure to resurface with the serialisation, again in The Sun, of Adams' autobiography, in which he criticises the coach's man- management, training methods and tactics. This apart, the England coach has been concerned by recent reports quoting his best defender as contemplating retirement at the end of the season due to trouble from a long-standing ankle injury. Adams said last week that he would give up playing, rather than 'rot' his stomach with an endless diet of pills. Grooming Ferdinand to take over at the fulcrum of the England defence is one of Hoddle's options, with another being the introduction of Liverpool's Jamie Redknapp to the sweeper's role which is foreign to him at club level. On Adams' future, Hoddle said: 'I want to speak to Tony about that. I want him fit and available because he's playing as well as he's ever done. He's an important figure, and very much in my mind for the European Championship. But I do need that clarification.' The answer to how England would cope without Adams came when Hoddle was asked whether there was another David Beckham or Michael Owen in the pipeline. 'Rio is the one,' Hoddle said. 'He's been around a while [Ferdinand was capped three times last season, twice as a substitute], without quite hitting the international scene like I think he might do. 'The nice thing is that we've got options with Rio, as regards where we want him to play [he is also seen as an alternative to Graeme Le Saux at left wing-back]. He could play midfield, or in a back four or three. He has that versatility because he's got ability on the ball.' The intention is to eventually use him as the key figure in a sweeper system, but in the short-term Ferdinand seems to be in contention for a screening role, in front of the defence in Sweden, where David Batty and Beckham, will be absent, respectively injured and suspended. Hoddle added: 'When you talk about playing with a sweeper, a lot of people think of it purely as a defensive measure. I've never looked at it like that. I want someone who can come out and play ? to come into midfield and go from there. Someone who is really comfortable on the ball and can get forward and hurt the opposition from a deep position. 'Rio has definitely got the potential [to play sweeper]. He's got the ability on the ball, but defensively he has to come on. It's something I've made him aware of. I've spoken to Harry [Redknapp] about it, and he agreed. And to be fair, the lad listened. He's a more reliable defender now. His aerial work is a lot stronger and his tactical awareness is better.' Hoddle also hinted that he would be keeping faith with his failed World Cup squad. 'There's nobody who was in France who isn't going to see us through to the European Championship,' he said. And the book saga? 'All publicity is good publicity,' beamed the publisher at the launch. Hoddle, who was accompanied by his solicitor, said: 'I feel like Bill Clinton.' Inappropriate, indeed.