Cole set for England landmark
England manager Roy Hodgson is intending to play it safe in next week's friendly against Brazil - which means Ashley Cole is set to win his 100th cap.
With both senior and under-21 squads due to be announced this afternoon for significant engagements next week, it has been decided that Jonjo Shelvey, Raheem Sterling and Wilfried Zaha - all of whom won their first caps under Hodgson earlier this season - will link up with Stuart Pearce's group for Tuesday's encounter with Sweden at Walsall.
The move has clearly been made with half an eye on this summer's Under-21 European Championships in Israel, and has Hodgson's full agreement.
So, England's 25-man senior squad for the friendly with Brazil at Wembley will be packed with experience, including Cole, who will follow in the footsteps of Peter Shilton, David Beckham, Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton, Billy Wright and Steven Gerrard - the latter of whom reached the century milestone in Sweden last November.
Notoriously reluctant to speak with the media, there is unlikely to be any great fanfare for the 32-year-old, beyond a possible picture, and Cole has long since accepted any admiration for his undoubted talents will be tempered by the distaste for his general behaviour.
However, even with Leighton Baines pushing hard, there is still no dispute of Cole's status as England's first-choice left-back - which is more than can be said for Hodgson's midfield dilemma. For the first time since he took the job last May, Hodgson has all his key midfielder available.
As skipper, Gerrard would be an automatic choice for England's mouth-watering start to a year they expect to include World Cup qualification.
But what Hodgson must do is select additional names from a group that also includes Frank Lampard, Scott Parker - who has not featured for his country due to injury since starting every game at Euro 2012 - Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley and Jack Wilshere, and that is without mentioning Leon Osman, who made his debut earlier this season.
With an eye on the future, Wilshere is sure to be called up.
But Lampard, Parker and Carrick, who came out of the international wilderness at the start of last season following an intervention from Hodgson's assistant Gary Neville, cannot be so certain, even though it is anticipated the England boss will select a 25-man squad - and their shelf-life at the highest level is limited.
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