Carlo pencils Cole in for Potters clash
Carlo Ancelotti insists Ashley Cole has confirmed the injured left-back intends to make his first-team return against Stoke later this month. England coach Fabio Capello had warned Cole he would only pick him if he proved his fitness between now and the end of the season. The Chelsea left-back has been sidelined since February after breaking his ankle against Everton but Ancelotti says the player has enough time to prove his fitness. "Ashley Cole is closer to playing," said Ancelotti. "I think he will need some days to train and we hope he is available for the game against Stoke on April 25. "Ashley is an important player for England and after the season they still have a month to get ready, so he will be ready for sure, but I have not spoken to Capello." Cole's return will give him three league games and the FA Cup final, should the Blues beat Aston Villa in this weekend's semi-final, to prove he is worth a place in Capello's squad. The 29-year-old's rehabilitation has gone extremely well and the Chelsea medical staff are happy with his progress. Ancelotti's comments came after Capello had told Four Four Two magazine: "I know not all the players will be in the same shape. Some will have played the whole season, some will have played only half the season. "If, for example, Ashley Cole is only half-fit, that's not enough. He needs to play too. After three months of being injured he will need games." While the west London are looking to retain the FA Cup, Ancelotti's eyes remain focused on the Premier League and a two-point lead over Manchester United at the top of the table - courtesy of their 2-1 victory at Old Trafford last Saturday. The Italian is concerned United and Arsenal's exit from the Champions League will now allow them to re-focus their priority on the title race. "It is not good news they are out of the Champions League because now both teams will be focused on the Premier League and we have to pay attention because they are close to us. "They have the experience to stay focused on the Premier League because they have experience and quality. I would have preferred for Manchester United to have beaten Bayern Munich and stayed in the Champions League because it would be easier for us. "United had a bad week, they lost the quarter-final and they lost against us. Now, they have the possibility to come back and play well and win." But before Chelsea continue their battle for the title against Bolton next week, they have to beat Villa again for the second time in just over a fortnight. Their league meeting at Stamford Bridge saw Chelsea demolish Martin O'Neill's side 7-1 but Ancelotti insists fans and players alike must forget that result. "I'm sure it will be a different game," added the Italian. "We will not think about that match. Aston Villa will play a different game, they will have a good direction, so we will play attention. "It is a semi-final of an important championship and they will be doing their best to win. Saturday will be different. "They have players with experience and strength and I have a good opinion about this team. "I think to remind them about bad things is not good, it's better to remind them about good things. Martin O'Neill is a good psychologist and a very good coach."
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