Cole to join England's 100 club
Soccer: England coach Roy Hodgson has confirmed Ashley Cole will start Wednesday's friendly against Brazil and earn his 100th cap.
The Chelsea left-back will become the seventh player to make 100 England appearances, following in the footsteps of Peter Shilton (125), David Beckham (115), Bobby Moore (108), Bobby Charlton (106), Billy Wright (105) and Steven Gerrard (100).
Asked if Cole would start, Hodgson told reporters: "Yes he will. He'll start the game, then I'll have to see what to do with Leighton (Baines), who has been doing very well. Ashley will definitely start."
Hodgson did, however, rule out the possibility of Cole leading the side out at Wembley tomorrow in place of captain Gerrard, who made his 100th appearance for England in last November’s friendly with Sweden.
Hodgson said: “I don’t see any reason why the captain should let anyone else lead the team out.
“Ashley does his talking and work on the field and I don’t think he’s ever pushed himself forward during his 100 appearances as a potential captain of the team.
“I think he’s just very happy to be a key player in the team so I’m pretty certain he won’t be trying to rip the armband off Steven tomorrow."
Hodgson has urged media and fans alike to not overburden fit again midfielder Jack Wilshere with expectation. Wilshere is also poised to play, but for him it will be the first start since the Euro qualifier with Switzerland in June 2011.
The Arsenal player has been in impressive form since returning from his lengthy injury lay-off and he appeared as a substitute for England against Sweden in November. But Hodgson hopes that not too much weight is placed on his young shoulders in terms of being billed as the player who will lead England to glory.
“Jack is a player who carries a huge weight of responsibility at a young age," Hodgson said. “I hope everyone is going to understand he is still a young man, he is 21 and still capable of playing in the under-21s, not that he will. I’m anxious in some ways and, while delighted with his form and the way he plays and sharing everyone’s enthusiasm about his quality, I want to play it down a bit too.
“I wouldn’t like to see him have to take a backward step because all of a sudden his name is being put forward as the saviour of the English football team. We’ve got other players too. I’m hoping Jack’s contribution, which will be a big contribution, will be matched by big contributions by the other players like Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard, Cole, Johnson etc.”
Wilshere’s cameo role against the Swedes was the first time he had ever played alongside England skipper Steven Gerrard who is glowing in his praise for the player.
He said: “If Jack stays fit, he has got the talent and ability to be a top player for England. All the other players and the manager are excited to have him back. He has had a disappointing time with injuries and I’ve felt for him because I’ve been there myself. But fingers crossed he can avoid injuries in the future and get a run of games in this team.”