Cole fit and hungry for cup glory
Joe Cole has been hailed as Chelsea's fittest player on the eve of the FA Cup final - providing a timely boost for club and country. Cole has been named in Fabio Capello's initial 30-man squad for the World Cup finals in South Africa next month but still has to persuade the Italian he is worth a place in the final 23-man party. Cole is determined to make the June 1 cut after enduring a frustrating season with the Premier League champions. The midfielder has not played regularly for Chelsea since returning from a knee injury in September but he insists that the lack of game time means he is in the perfect condition to make a huge impact in the finals. "We did the fitness tests at Chelsea on Thursday and I am the fittest player in the squad," declared Cole. "It's been a long hard season and some of the guys have played 50 games. I'm fresh and hungry. I just want to get out there. "I'm looking to be on the plane, that's the goal. Once I'm on the plane I'll look to get in the starting 11 and once I'm in it I will look to win it." Cole was one of England's best performers at the 2006 World Cup, scoring a stunning volley in the 2-2 draw with Sweden, and is desperate to add to his 53 caps. "I've been there and done it at international level, I know what it's all about and I'm quite proud of my England career so far," said Cole. "He [Capello] knows what I can do. It is hard to play as well as you like when you're playing 20 minutes here, 45 there. "Maybe I've been trying a bit too hard at times but I have been applying myself well in the last few months and maybe he [Capello] looked at that. "I'm just happy to be there. I'm excited like everyone else about the World Cup." Cole goes into the FA Cup final insisting Chelsea must not be complacent against Pompey. The England midfielder still has a lot of respect for Pompey boss Avram Grant, who took Chelsea to the Champions League final in 2008. "I am very fond of Avram," said Cole. "He is a great manager. Maybe when he took the job over, coming in after a very popular manager in Jose Mourinho, made it very difficult for him. "But he proved himself here and took us within a whisker of winning the Champions League - better than any other manager has done at Chelsea so far. "What he's done at Portsmouth is remarkable with all the turmoil that's going on, the players there really seem to have responded to him." Cole refuses to talk about his own situation, with his contract set to expire at the end of the season. Asked if his future remained at Chelsea, Cole replied: "The way I'm seeing it, I'm focusing on the cup final."
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