Ashley Cole's fitness takes centre stage

08 June 2012 06:47

Ashley Cole's fitness will be the subject of most interest when England throw open their doors to training on Friday morning in a further attempt to prove themselves "good tourists" at Euro 2012.

Stung by criticism of their stand-offishness in South Africa two years ago, the Football Association have taken a number of measures to ensure such accusations will not be repeated about their time in Poland and Ukraine.

On Thursday night they attended a civic reception, completing the short journey from their city centre hotel on foot, and on Friday it will be a fully open training session before the squad splits, with Wayne Rooney and Joe Hart amongst those to visit Auschwitz and Steven Gerrard leading a trip to Oskar Schindler's factory in Krakow.

Yet despite the significance of those visits, it is England's Group D opener with France in Donetsk on Monday that remains most important.

Therefore, Cole's absence from Thursday night's reception was noted, with the FA, who were originally unaware the defender was missing, claiming simply that he was "resting" in his room.

However, there have been suggestions Cole missed training on Thursday with a stomach bug, even though the FA said everyone took part in a closed-doors session.

Should he be absent on Friday morning, it could mean yet another headache for manager Roy Hodgson, who may have to use Leighton Baines against the French.

Meanwhile, Hart has stressed the importance of the visit to Auschwitz after revealing his father convinced him to see the former Nazi death camp.

The goalkeeper said: "Ever since Krakow was chosen as the venue, he said, 'You need to go and do this, go and see, experience it'.

"It's hard. I'm not being sick or perverse. You need to see these things to appreciate them. It's talked about and you hear people chuck words like 'Holocaust'. You need to know what they are. It gives you more of a feeling of the history of this world."

Source: PA

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