Sunday 19 November 2017

Cole closing on 100th cap as he escapes England axe

Sam Wallace

Roy Hodgson has decided that he will not punish Ashley Cole for his Twitter attack on the FA and the player will be told that he is available for selection for Friday's World Cup qualifier against San Marino.

Hodgson is expected to confirm today that Cole will be disciplined through the normal FA procedures -- he was charged yesterday -- but that it will not affect his availability for England.

Whether Cole plays on Friday is another matter, given that Hodgson could well rest some of his big names against a nation that is placed last in the Fifa rankings and has won just one game in its entire history. If the 31-year-old does pick up his 99th cap, however, he is almost certain to reach his century in the next qualifier against Poland four days later -- becoming only the sixth man in English football history to do so.

Hodgson would have been within his rights to leave Cole out of the team for San Marino after the player described the FA as a "#BUNCHOFTWATS" on Twitter (above), in response to the independent regulatory commission's damning judgment on his evidence in the John Terry racial abuse verdict.

There are many within the game who feel that Cole would benefit from being disciplined at the England manager's behest. There have been discretionary punishments in the past, such as the removal of the captaincy from Terry, on two occasions, and Fabio Capello's decision to delay Andy Carroll's senior call-up after he failed to report for an U-21s camp.

Cole was charged with misconduct by the FA yesterday over his tweet which was, the governing body said, "improper and/or brought the game into disrepute". He is likely to be fined. Rio Ferdinand was fined £45,000 for responding on Twitter to a post that described Cole as a "choc ice", a racially charged insult.

Liverpool's Jonjo Shelvey (20) was called into the senior England squad for the first time, with Frank Lampard an injury doubt. The midfielder is ineligible to play for the U-21s in the first leg of their European Championship qualifier against Serbia on Friday because he is suspended.

Lampard's injury raises questions over who will captain the side, with Steven Gerrard suspended. In Lampard's absence, the most likely candidate would be Joe Hart.

Wayne Rooney has been captain in the past but his credibility has been affected by his Montenegro red card earlier this year.

The Chelsea left-back Ryan Bertrand has also been called up to replace the injured Kieran Gibbs. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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