Zola avoids club v country row

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West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola has revealed his frustration after Carlton Cole aggravated an injury while on England duty - but he would never push for players to be withdrawn from internationals.

Cole had a groin problem ahead of the clash against Slovakia last weekend and was forced off at Wembley after making it worse.

The 25-year-old is out for six weeks but Zola has no regrets over allowing his player to join up with the national team, saying: "I would never pull someone out of an international squad. I know how important it was for him to go with the national team. It would have been very selfish if I had told him to pull out. I could have caused even more damage."

He added: "I can only compare to how important it was for me to play for the national team. You are playing for your country and I don't think in football there is a bigger achievement than that."

Cole faces an anxious wait to see what part he will play in the club's push for European qualification this season.

The schedule for Cole's return would see him play in the final three matches of the Barclays Premier League season, with the club in the hunt for a place in the Europa League, but the former Chelsea forward would be well short of match fitness.

"Fortunately he won't need an operation, it is a problem between the muscle and tendon in the groin," Zola said. "He should be available in six weeks."

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Carlton Cole
Premier League
Gianfranco Zola

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