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World Cup Group D

Get behind Cole urges Gerrard

England skipper Steven Gerrard says fans should respect and support centurion Ashley Cole if he plays against Brazil in Wednesday's friendly.

Last Updated: 06/02/13 at 18:29 Post Comment

Ashley Cole made his England senior debut in 2001 under Sven-Goran Eriksson

Ashley Cole made his England senior debut in 2001 under Sven-Goran Eriksson

Chelsea's 32-year-old left-back will earn a 100th cap if he steps out at Wembley against the five-time World cup winners.

Cole has not always received a warm welcome from his country's supporters but Gerrard, who won his 100th cap against Sweden in November, said: "I think it's very important the Wembley crowd respect what Ashley has done for England.

"I think if the fans take a moment and have a think of what Ashley Cole has given in an England shirt over the last 10 or 12 years, it has been phenomenal.

"He's probably been the most consistent player I've played with during my time. It's going to be Ashley's night, if he's picked to play, and the players are certainly going to show him a hell of a lot of support. Let's hope the fans do as well."

The Liverpool midfielder admitted players get used to criticism from on and off the pitch and use it as a motivational force to boost their performance.

He added: "There are times when you wonder if the criticism is all worth it. But players are thick skinned. We can take criticism off you lads (the media) and the supporters.

"There's no problem with that at all and sometimes it actually helps drive you on to prove people wrong and prove you are good enough to be at this level.

"Ashley is big enough and strong enough to take any criticism that comes his way. But I think anyone here or in that ground on Wednesday night can't take that away from Ashley.

"He deserves to be a 100-cap player, there's no doubt about it. I think there's been years over the last 12 when Ashley Cole has been the best left-back in the world.

"We've been lucky to have him. I think the supporters realise that as well and let's hope they give him a fantastic reception. It was a great feeling for me to get to 100 caps in the last game so I know what Ashley is going to be feeling, and credit to him."

England's injury list has mounted over the last 48 hours and will face the mighty Brazilians without strikers Daniel Sturridge and Jermain Defoe, as well as midfielder Michael Carrick.

Gerrard is relishing the clash in London but admitted he already has one eye on next month's vital World Cup qualifier with Montenegro in Podgorica.

"To play Brazil at Wembley is fantastic but there's a little bit in the mind that's already waiting for the Montenegro game because it is going to be a key game," he said.

"You can't get away from that. With all due respect to San Marino (the game before), that's a match we should win comfortably, but Montenegro is going to be a massive game.

"If we can keep everybody fit then I'm really confident. I think there is a lot of hard work to do in the group still, that's for sure. We are certainly not underestimating where we are and how much there is to do.

"But if we get three points in Montenegro it puts us back in the driving seat. I think Ukraine have had a couple of disappointing results, which has helped.

"It's looking like a two-horse race. If we can beat Montenegro in their back yard it's going to be good. We don't want to go into a play-off."

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I

think all those names linked to United exits make sense. Kagawa has never really looked like hitting the form he had at Dortmund and Fellaini is radioactive after last season (even though I think he's been unfairly singled out for criticism). Nani and Anderson have had more than their fair share of chances so they are done, and Hernandez deserves better than warming a bench.

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H

e'll be off to Spurs (or better) in January and I don't blame him. Looking forward to re-signing Grant Holt as his replacement though.

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Benteke ignoring speculation

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n fairness, he does look absolutely shattered in that photo.....

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