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Cole ready to take Three Lions chance
Published : 10 Jun 2010 07:18:00
Joe Cole insists he can have a major impact for England in Saturday's Group C opener against the USA despite the uncertainty over his future. Cole ended a 20-month absence from the Three Lions in last month's friendly win over Japan and, after completing his first 90 minutes since February in Monday's victory against local league side Platinum Stars, now looks set to start at the weekend. He will do so against the backdrop of knowing he is no longer wanted by Chelsea and must find a new club before the start of next season. However, the 28-year-old is adamant his focus will not be deflected by not knowing where is future lies. "Pulling on an England shirt against Japan after 20 months out was quite special," said Cole. "I have always taken pride in my England career. I have acquitted myself as well as anyone over the years. "I love the flow and speed of the game at this level. It suits my game. "If I get the chance this weekend, I will take it." Cole is confident about his own contribution because he is starting to feel wanted again after making only sporadic appearances for Carlo Ancelotti following his recovery from major knee surgery. The midfielder has vowed to lift the lid on what really went on at Stamford Bridge at some stage, presumably once England's World Cup campaign is over. But it is clear his startling fall down the Chelsea pecking order came as something of a surprise. "For the five years before my injury I was more or less a regular for England and all of a sudden people were patting me on the back for getting in a 30-man squad," he reflected. "I thought I might have run out of time even though I had done all I could. "I had made a couple of goals against Stoke and then in the final match against Wigan, people must have thought I was mad because I was running round chasing balls down to the corner. "The league was won but I needed to show I was fit. "What I need in my career is a manager who will give me the feeling that 'you are going to play here', that faith. "I don't want to talk too much about Chelsea. That is a story for another day. "But this season was very difficult for me. I just want to put it behind me." Cole, meanwhile, believes Fabio Capello has got it exactly right by leaving his England players in the dark about his World Cup team selection. Two days before the Three Lions open their Group C campaign against the United States in Rustenburg, Capello has still to announce who his goalkeeper will be. Other places are also open to debate, even though a general consensus about England's likely line-up is starting to emerge. But Cole, who is expected to start on the left as Steven Gerrard moves back to partner Frank Lampard in central midfield, feels the mystery is keeping England sharp. "The great thing about the squad now, which is different to when I have been in England squads before, is that you don't know who the manager is going to pick in any position," said Cole. "It keeps everyone on their toes. "When players are not being picked on reputations and the manager is choosing his team solely on form, fitness and temperament, that is when you get the better team ethic and things gel together. "There is a lot of competition in this squad. There aren't 10 lads thinking they are going to be sitting on the bench in this tournament. "Everyone thinks they have got a chance at this World Cup and that has to help overall." During his two-and-a-half years in charge, Capello has cut a smooth figure. But that veneer slipped yesterday morning as he took exception to a photographer he thought was capturing pictures inside England's treatment room. The tongue-lashing that followed was similar to the one dished out to his players following their mediocre first-half performance on Monday. For Cole though, it does not diminish a reputation he believes is fully deserved. "Fabio Capello is the best manager I have worked with for England," he said. "I put him alongside (Jose) Mourinho as one of the two best managers I have worked with. "He has an aura. "He knows his way round a football pitch, his tactical knowledge goes without saying and his preparation is spot on. You don't want to let him down." Not letting him down would mean reaching the final, which Capello has stated is his aim over the next four weeks. When Cole looks around the team hotel, even with Rio Ferdinand on crutches, he can see no reason why England cannot hit their target. "This squad has got the experience of being in tournaments before, everyone is coming to the right age and both (Wayne) Rooney and Gerrard are fit," he said. "If we have that bit of luck, we can go all the way. "I believe we can. I am convinced we can. I have got faith in these boys."