LONDON: Ashley Cole, despite the storm over his Twitter attack on the Football Association, is likely to start England’s World Cup qualifying tie against San Marino at Wembley on Friday.
The Chelsea man shaped up in his usual left back position – rather than Leighton Baines – in manager Roy Hodgson’s apparent first-choice defence during the first open training session at the FA’s £100m new training complex at Burton, north of Birmingham.
Cole was charged by the FA over the offensive wording of his response to the formal report into the John Terry’s racism case. The inquiry panel questioned the veracity of Cole’s evidence which had helped Terry achieve acquittal in the court case in July but not from the FA tribunal.
Within hours of issuing the tweet Cole issued an apology which he has also repeated, in person, to David Bernstein, the FA chairman. Bernstein said: “He apologised showed real contrition. He said he was really sorry.”
Hodgson is now, perversely, under pressure to pick Cole for what would be his 99th cap so as to show that his authority over team issues is not dictated or influenced by political or administrative issues.
This concern was raised first when Hodgson picked Terry for Euro 2012 and not Rio Ferdinand – whose brother Anton had been the other central figure in the original row.
Cole’s difficult week continued when Chelsea confirmed that he and midfielder Frank Lampard will be offered only one-year extensions to their contracts which expire next summer.
Lampard, 34, is a £250,000-a-week target for two Chinese clubs, including former team-mate Didier Drogba’s Shanghai Shenhua. David Beckham’s LA Galaxy are also interested in offering him a two or three-year contract.