Former Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd warns Chelsea not to rush Ashley Cole back

15 February 2010 09:58
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has been warned not to allow Ashley Cole to let his heart rule his head ahead of the World Cup finals and risk long-term injury.

The advice came from former Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd after Cole's injury problems revived painful memories of Michael Owen's devastating knee trouble after the striker rushed back from injury for the 2006 World Cup finals.

 Related ArticlesTerry: I want to reach 100 England capsChelsea need a priest, says the ChurchBest: Newcastle must cope with hypeSousa praises 'perfect' SwanseaChelsea on their guardSport on television"The parallels are there with Michael Owen when he was at Newcastle and look what happened to us," Shepherd said.

"He came back too soon and the rest is history. If I was Chelsea I would be very careful because there will be enormous pressure on them to ensure Ashley Cole is fit for the World Cup.

"It is the classic club-versus-country dilemma but first and foremost he is a Chelsea asset and they are the ones who pay his wages.

"Chelsea won't want him going away to play in a World Cup unless he is 100 per cent fit and they are the ones who should make that decision, nobody else."

Owen suffered a metatarsal injury ahead of the 2006 World Cup and returned to action in Germany only to sustain ligament damage that ruled the club's £17-million, £115,000-per-week record signing, out of action for almost a full season.

It is a cautionary tale for Chelsea with Cole being ruled out of action for three months with a broken ankle that has put the left-back's chances of representing his country in South Africa in grave doubt.

Shepherd, who won a compensation battle with the Football Association following Owen's injury, added: "Looking back on the Owen situation, he probably came back too early. In hindsight he wasn't 100 per cent fit in Germany. That contributed to him damaging his cruciate ligaments in the Sweden game, ruling him out for months and months.

"Ashley Cole was injured playing in a Premier League game and not an England international so the question of compensation does not arise but Chelsea's priority isn't to get him fit so that he is available for England duty, it is to get him fit for club football.

"Don't get me wrong, everyone wants Ashley Cole 100 per cent fit and available for the World Cup, including me, but Chelsea must be the ones who have the final say, not the FA or anyone else.

"Believe me, they don't want to find themselves in the situation Newcastle did with Michael, fighting the FA for compensation. We fought like hell to get what we felt we were due."

Source: Telegraph

World Cup Group G

Belgium 1 0 0 3 3
England 1 0 0 1 3
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