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Cole and Shaw fight for place

Ashley Cole and Luke Shaw will be involved in a two-way shootout to prove they deserve to be in England's World Cup squad.

Last Updated: 04/03/14 at 23:25 Post Comment

Ashley Cole and Luke Shaw at England training

Ashley Cole and Luke Shaw at England training

England face Denmark on Wednesday night in the final friendly before manager Roy Hodgson selects his squad to take to Brazil this summer.

Of the 23 men going to to the World Cup finals there will only be two left-backs, and Hodgson's admission that he does not need to look at Leighton Baines in the Denmark friendly suggests the Everton defender is almost certain to go to the tournament.

That leaves Cole and Shaw vying for one position in the squad.

"I've spoken to Leighton and he won't feature tomorrow, unless we get an incredible number of injuries," the England manager said on Tuesday.

"All three of them want to play, but even with substitutions I can't fit in three left-backs.

"It's the right moment in this game to look at one of or both Luke and Ashley Cole, as Leighton has been playing regularly for us.

"The two I need to look at in an England shirt are Ashley and Luke."

Cole's tricky predicament is well-known by now. The 33-year-old has made 12 Premier League starts this term, and just two of them have come since the turn of the year.

Every time he is named on the substitutes' bench, Cole's chances of making his fourth World Cup decrease.

Shaw is just 18 years old but he is regarded as one of the most promising players in English football.

Hodgson handed Cole his 100th cap earlier this season though and he is not about to give up on the Chelsea man just yet.

"Knowing Ashley as I do I'm pretty certain he is working every day to show Jose Mourinho he is making the right choice," Hodgson said.

"If he doesn't get back in the team it is not going to change my opinion on Ashley Cole.

"I know what he can do, 106 caps for England says everything. It would quite simply be a choice at the end."

England captain Steven Gerrard has played alongside Cole in the international set-up for over a decade and he is sure the full-back will not give his place up without a fight.

"If you're a winner you want to play so I'm sure Ashley is frustrated, but he's working to get back in the Chelsea team," the Liverpool midfielder said.

"He's never let the country down and has always been a very consistent player. Watching him the last couple of days I didn't see any problems with his fitness, and that's when he's not been playing."

As well as Shaw, Hodgson is expected to hand Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana an opportunity to stake a claim for the World Cup squad on Wednesday night.

The England manager hinted he could try a couple of different formations too.

The last time Hodgson shuffled his team around was in November when England lost to Chile and Germany in successive matches.

Another defeat would make him the first England manager to lose three home games on the trot, but he is not concerned about earning that tag as his main focus is on Brazil.

"We don't want to lose games at Wembley, but (this game) won't decide whether we win the World Cup or we don't," he said.

"This is our last game before the World Cup so I'm hoping we won't lose, but I can't elevate it to the importance of the World Cup.

"If it so happened that we did lose, but I learnt some very important lessons that prevented a major mistake when I named the 23, it could be a benefit in disguise."

Of all the players on the fringes of the squad, Sterling perhaps has the best chance of making the 23-man party due to his recent good form with Liverpool.

The 19-year-old has performed superbly since the turn of the year and his captain is sure the winger has the ability to make it World Cup and beyond.

"The form he is in at the moment, he is the type of player you play good money to go and see," Gerrard said.

"He gets you off your seat, he is exciting. People see him as a small boy who can be bullied, a weak player but he is the opposite, he is strong and robust and the pace he has is electric.

"He will be a big player for this country for a long time and I'm glad he is a red."

Kyle Walker will miss the game against the Danes, which will be preceded by a minute's applause in the memory of former England player Sir Tom Finney, who died on February 14.

Former Denmark coach Richard Moller Nielsen, who also died last month, will also be remembered before kick-off.


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