England Under-21 star Ryan Bertrand has admitted Ashley Cole has been both a "help" and a "hindrance" in his quest to succeed his Chelsea team-mate at left-back for club and country.
The 21-year-old concedes it might be in his interest to join the recent exodus of youngsters from the club if he is to secure regular first-team football. But he also knows there is no better man than Cole from whom to learn the art of full-back play, with the 30-year-old considered by many to be the best left-sided defender in the world.
"It's a massive positive having him at Chelsea - and a massive hindrance too I suppose!" said Bertrand, who joined the Blues aged 15. "He's definitely right up there - his attitude, the way he goes about training. He's won the most FA Cups, and a lot of other silverware, and to still have that attitude at his age is fantastic."
Although Cole is the perfect example to follow on the field, he has been criticised for his behaviour off it.
But Bertrand, who has made just two Chelsea appearances, said: "He's a fantastic role model, despite all the stuff that gets written about him.
"He's a brilliant man and a brilliant player to have around to help you with your game.
"If I ever have anything to ask him about a certain situation on the pitch, he's more than happy to come back and talk."
Bertrand is blessed when it comes to learning about playing left-back, with England Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce also an expert in the field.
Bertrand, who is too young to remember Pearce in his prime, said: "He is able to chip in and give you little bits of advice and that's really good.
"He encourages you to be really positive, like the modern-day full-backs, and perhaps think more, with different runs, inside the man and outside the man."
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