England and Chelsea’s first-choice left-back has been warned that his first-team status in the Three Lions’ squad is no longer a surety following the impressive performances of Everton’s Leighton Baines for club and country.
Ashley Cole has already been dropped for his club’s last two games, with Blues’ boss Jose Mourinho preferring to use Cesar Azpilicueta instead, and he may now find himself on the bench for England as well.
The 32-year old, who has been England’s first-choice left-back for the last twelve years, reached the 100-cap landmark earlier this year, and now has 105 caps under his belt.
Baines on the other hand has 21 caps and has been teetering on the brink of the starting XI for a few years now; and this is the biggest indication yet that he may finally have forced his way ahead of Cole in England’s pecking order.
Hodgson also mentioned the possibility of Arsenal left-back Kieran Gibbs and Southampton and England U-21 star Luke Shaw playing a role at left-back for the senior side in the future.
“I’m still very happy to consider Ashley Cole as a potential English left-back,” said Hodgson. “But the competition for that spot is particularly fierce because Baines is also playing well and on top of that we have Kieran Gibbs and Luke Shaw, two younger players who I think can definitely put these more senior ones under some pressure.”
The manager however did confirm that each of the two senior left-backs will start either of the two friendlies against Chile and Germany.
“I will use one in one game and one in the other,” Hodgson added. “They don’t know yet which game one is going to play in. I do have enormous faith in both of them. I think they are fantastic quality players and when they get on the field, it’s good they play 90 minutes.”
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has already challenged Cole to try and reclaim his position with the Blues after the international break, and club-mate and fellow England centurion Frank Lampard insists that his team-mate will win his place back sooner rather than later.
“I don’t think he’s lost form,” Lampard said of his team-mate. “I think its modern times at Chelsea. We all have to take it on the chin, being on the bench… It’s not about being dropped, it’s about being patient…we all know Ash is a top-quality player.
"Leighton has got there on his performances as well, but we’re talking about Chelsea here. It’s not easy for our manager to pick one player in any position for every game of the season.”
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