May 20 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Roy Hodgson has admitted that Ashley Cole is under more pressure for his place than at any time in his long England career from Everton left-back Leighton Baines.
Hodgson yesterday confirmed that Cole will win his 100th cap against Brazil - a feat also achieved by Gerrard in Stockholm three months ago.
The England boss admits it is impossible for him to ignore Baines’ impressive form but insists it is a selection headache he welcomes.
He said: “Ashley has come under greater scrutiny if you like and the competition for his place is greater than in the past.
“I feel Leighton has matured enormously as an international player during the last year and is playing extremely well.
“Cole is playing well and Leighton is also playing well. I’m pleased to have the headache.
“It won’t be an easy choice when they are both fit and vying to play in the important games.
“But I’ll cross the bridge when I come to it and at the moment Ashley is the player we all know and respect and admire.
“Leighton is breathing down his neck and Ashley is not stupid, he has got big competition but that’s how it should be
“If we are ever going to have a top class England team, there will be that level of competition throughout the team.”
Cole has not always been popular with England fans but Hodgson believes he deserves a favourable reception at Wembley tomorrow evening.
He said: “I deal with Ashley the footballer, the man I know on the football field, who I know as an England player, who is trying to help me win matches.
“I see no reason for England fans not giving him the credit and reception and the admiration he deserves playing his 100th game.
“If you are an England fan and don’t respect or love someone for doing that, then that’s your problem and not his.”
Hodgson is paying full respect to tomorrow’s clash with the five times world champions but knows qualification for the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 is the main objective.
He said: “It’s a showpiece fixture, the perfect way to start 2013. I couldn’t have wished for a better fixture to prepare us for the qualifiers coming up.
“But we are fully aware whenever you are in a qualifying campaign, they are the matches that count however prestigious and difficult to negotiate the friendly fixtures are.
“I was anxious to pick a squad this time that included all of the senior players, all the ones we may be reliant upon.
“This game in particular, we hope it will show us we are on the right track and when March comes around we will be able to get good results in the qualifiers with San Marino and Montenegro.”