Chelsea FC and England defender Ashley Cole has long maintained a reputation as the best left back in the world. His performances on both the club and international level have backed up the claim but this year Cole has seen himself in an unfamiliar role as a squad player and not an instant starter. Cole has made only 20 appearances so far this season and has seen his spot taken over by César Azpilicueta who is a natural right back. Despite being a notch down in the pecking order, manager Jose Mourinho believes Cole is still the top choice for England for this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.
“I think the national team manager knows in every country where the best players are, where the players are that he trusts more, where the players are who were important to him in qualification. I don’t think they are much influenced by the fact a player is playing a lot or not playing a lot. A big percentage of them know already which players they are going to select for the World Cup, so I don’t think it affects anything. Ashley is playing well. Okay, he is not playing every game but he is playing and he is playing well. And I think that is what Roy Hodgson wants to know.”
A World Cup year is the worst time for a player to lose their starting spot but it is unlikely that Cole loses his starting position for England. His top competition, Leighton Baines of Everton, has suffered an injury plagued season and has made less appearances than Cole. The Chelsea left back’s international experience will likely be the deciding factor as he has topped 100 caps for England. Mourinho has played Cole enough for him to maintain his match fitness but the reduction of minutes may be a positive in Roy Hodgson’s eyes as Cole will have fresh legs come summertime.
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