LONDON: Ashley Cole has retired from international football after being told by Roy Hodgson that he will not be going to the World Cup finals in Brazil next month writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Chelsea left-back Cole, 33, has struggled for playing time with his club this season, with Spaniard Cesar Azpilicueta having been preferred by Jose Mourinho.

Although he has been involved more towards the end of the campaign, Cole has been supplanted by Everton’s Leighton Baines and, most likely, Southampton teenager Luke Shaw.

The decision brings an end to a lengthy international career for Cole, who made his England debut against Albania in 2001 and has won 107 caps since.

He said, via Twitter: “I got the call from Roy and agree England team should be about the young players. I think it best I retire from England team now.

“We have a great manager and team and I wish them only success. I will be supporting them like a true fan. Thanks to everyone for everything. Baines and Shaw are great players, proved this season, and are the future of this country, it was a pleasure to get 107 caps.”

‘Enormous credit’

Manager Hodgson responded to Cole’s announcement by saying: “Among many difficult decisions I have had to make for my squad, not selecting Ashley was one of the hardest.

“To amass more than a century of caps was a staggering achievement and he deserves enormous credit for the desire and brilliance that has shone through over the years he has represented his country.

“Of course I must respect his decision to retire. He has been one of England’s finest players but I want to look to the future. It has been one of the hardest decisions of my career.”

The full-back positions have been subject of plenty of conjecture ahead of Hodgson’s squad announcement on Monday afternoon, with Cole’s position in question and the decision to leave out Tottenham right-back Kyle Walker.

Walker has been struggling with a pelvic injury and with Hodgson’s medical staff fearing he will not be 100pc fit and deciding not to risk him, it could be Manchester United’s Phil Jones – also under an injury cloud – heading to Brazil as a back-up to likely starter Glen Johnson.

Cole’s omission suggests Hodgson is happy to take a youthful squad to Brazil and could mean a call for Everton midfielder Ross Barkley, who enjoyed a productive end to the season.

Expected to be included are Liverpool’s winger Raheem Sterling and midfielder Jordan Henderson as well as Southampton winger Adam Lallana even though all are short on national team experience.

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