England coach Roy Hodgson had previously stated that he wanted to “move on” from Ferdinand’s England tenure, but he has given the 34-year-old an opportunity to add to his 81 caps.
Hodgson had never previously selected Ferdinand for England, and the United centre-back has not turned out for his country since a game against Switzerland in June 2011.
An injury to Everton’s Phil Jagielka has opened the door for Ferdinand, and Hodgson said he could not rule out taking him to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil if he continues to perform well for his club.
“At the moment, I think Rio is the right man to help us in these games and probably the games ahead,” said Hodgson, who admitted he had not spoken to the defender about his recall.
“I can’t make guarantees for the future, but if Rio’s still playing as he is now in 2014, he’s going to be a major candidate for the squad.”
West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Ben Foster also earned a recall, as well as Tottenham Hotspur pair Michael Dawson and Scott Parker.
Foster, 29, returns after recently reversing his decision to retire from international football.
“He’s playing very well for his club team, he’s in exceptional form, and it’s just good he’s decided, after quite a long absence, that he wants to play for England again,” Hodgson said.
Hodgson, who will also be without Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere due to injury, said he had no concerns about Wayne Rooney, despite the Manchester United striker having been dropped for his side’s recent Champions League game with Real Madrid.
“That provoked a lot of headlines, but all I can say is that what happens in his club team and what decisions (United manager) Sir Alex Ferguson decides to make, that’s purely a matter for him and his club,” Hodgson said.
“As England manager, I’ve never had any cause to doubt Wayne Rooney and I’m pleased I’ll have a chance to work with him again in the next eight or nine days.”
England, who beat Brazil 2-1 at Wembley in their last game in February, visit San Marino on March 22, followed by a trip to Group H leaders Montenegro on March 26.
Goalkeepers: Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion), Joe Hart (Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Glasgow Celtic)
Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole (both Chelsea), Michael Dawson (Tottenham Hotspur), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur)
Midfielders: Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley (both Manchester United), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Aaron Lennon (Tottenham Hotspur), James Milner (Manchester City), Leon Osman (Everton), Scott Parker (Tottenham Hotspur), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott (both Arsenal), Ashley Young (Manchester United)
Forwards: Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United)