The centre-half, who has been selected for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro later this month, has not featured for the national side since June 2011 and was not included in Hodgson’s Euro 2012 squad last summer.
But Hodgson has hinted that the 34-year-old, who has been a mainstay in United’s table-topping side this season, will start both games as England look to take another step towards qualification for next summer’s tournament.
“I’ve been following him for quite a while now and must have seen United play for our five times in the last five weeks,” Hodgson told a news conference.
“He’s playing well, his team are doing extremely well and this is the moment to select him because he deserves it on current form and hopefully he can help us win the next two matches because that’s the most important thing.
“In the past I’ve chosen other players but at the moment I think Rio is the right man. If Rio Ferdinand is still playing in 2014 like he is now he is going to be major candidate for the squad.”
Hodgson said that he had not discussed his decision with the Manchester United defender himself.
He explained: “I haven’t spoken to any of the players personally, I don’t think that’s necessary. I’ve understood that Rio has been disappointed being left out in the past and has wanted to play for England, so I’m presuming he will be happy to know he will coming back into the squad as much as we are with him.”
He added: “With Joleon Lescott playing so little football and Michael Dawson playing as he is I felt it was right to include him.”
Goalkeepers: Ben Foster, Joe Hart, Fraser Forster.
Defenders: Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Michael Dawson, Rio Ferdinand, Glen Johnson, Chris Smalling, Kyle Walker.