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Capello: Cole return vital for England at World Cup

Fabio Capello is crossing his fingers that Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole recovers from his broken ankle in time to make this summer's World Cup finals.

Cole underwent surgery yesterday on an injury picked up in the 2-1 defeat at Everton on Wednesday that is set to keep him out for three months.

If that timescale is correct, the only Chelsea matches he would be available for would be the FA Cup and Champions League finals, should the Londoners get that far.


It would give Capello a headache as Cole would have had no match practice heading into the final two England friendlies before the team fly to South Africa.

In all likelihood, the Italian would trust the naturally fit 29-year-old, who most regard as one of England's genuine world-class talents.

"It is sad news for me because he is a very important player," Capello conceded.

"He is good when he's defending and really dangerous when we go forward. I hope this problem will not be so serious."

Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti expects Cole to make it but, regardless of the long-term issues, there are immediate consequences for England ahead of their friendly with African Nations Cup winners Egypt at Wembley on March 3.

Although there are other options, specifically the flexible James Milner and his Aston Villa team-mate Stephen Warnock, Wayne Bridge is generally regarded as Cole's understudy.

Yet it was only last week that John Terry was sacked as England's captain for an alleged affair with Bridge's ex-girlfriend.


Although Bridge has vowed not to speak about the issue, it was claimed the 29-year-old was uncomfortable with the thought of sharing a dressing room with ex-club-mate Terry.

However, Bridge's club boss, Roberto Mancini, has attempted to allay any fears about Bridge's commitment to the England cause.

"If he is picked, he will play," said Mancini. "The national team is important for every player and it is the same for Wayne Bridge.

"He is committed to playing for England and it is important for any player to play at the World Cup, especially if they are in the first XI.

"I know the injury to Ashley Cole is a problem for England, but Wayne can play in this position for the national team."