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Confusion reigns over Cole's England captaincy

ROY Hodgson ended up digging himself out of a hole this evening after he made a mess of revealing who will captain England for their friendly against the Republic of Ireland.

With regular captain Steven Gerrard out through injury, Hodgson had to nominate a new skipper for the friendly against Ireland and given that Frank Lampard is Gerrard's deputy, he was the obvious choice.


Ashley Cole was also under consideration, however, given that he is scheduled to pick up his special commemorative 100th cap before the game.


Initially, Hodgson appeared to confirm that Chelsea midfielder Lampard would be skipper for the game, but because it was a special night for Cole, he would have the honour of leading the team out at Wembley.


The England manager told a press conference: "Frank has always been the captain in Steve's absence.


"I appointed him vice-captain. But in actual fact tomorrow I have discussed this and Frank is happy for Ashley to lead the team onto the field in celebration of his 100th cap which he'll receive tomorrow.


"It's actually his 102nd appearance but he'll receive the cap tomorrow; so Frank and I are happy that he will lead the team out there. But Frank still remains captain of the team - I'm afraid that's a bit more complicated than you maybe would have liked it to be, but that's the way it is."


Hodgson then confused matters further by saying that Cole would in fact "wear the armband" in the friendly against Giovanni Trapattoni's side - a sign, of course, that is usually associated with being captain.


"After speaking to Frank and sounding out the other members of the squad... everyone thought it was would be nice if he (Cole) had the armband on and led the team out," Hodgson added.


"Frank was happy to hand over that honour because we all believe he deserves it; he's been a fantastic servant not only to Chelsea and Arsenal but England too."


What Hodgson appears to have tried to say is that Cole will in fact be captain against the Irish, but that Lampard spoke to the media today because the Chelsea defender does not enjoy the attention that comes with speaking to the media on the day before the game - a responsibility usually shouldered by the captain.


"Perhaps he (Cole) is reluctant to stand in front of the media and play the captain's role," Hodgson said.


Hodgson then sought to clarify the situation in an interview with BBC Radio Five Live.


Hodgson referred to Lampard as the "nominal captain" - ie that he turned up with the England manager to face the media in Cole's absence.


Finally, with the interviewer's confusion clear, Hodgson was asked the direct question whether Cole would be captain for tomorrow's game and replied: "Yes".


Hodgson's comments caused confusion on Twitter, with England fans and ex-players like Gary Lineker posting that Lampard would captain England, before changing their tweets to say that Cole would in fact be skipper.


Lineker said: "When is a captain not a captain? When he's Ashley Cole. Leading team out, wearing armband, but Lampard is skipper. #bizarre."


He then added: "Confusion over. Ashley Cole will now captain England. Not just for the pre match duties. As you were...."


Even Chelsea were caught out by Hodgson's comments, the club tweeting: "Roy Hodgson confirms that Frank Lampard will captain England tomorrow but Ashley Cole will lead the team out... #CFC"


They later tweeted: "To clarify, it will be Ashley Cole who will captain England against the Republic of Ireland tomorrow. Congratulations to @TheRealAC3."


Lampard thinks Cole is a worthy recipient of the honour. He said: "He very much deserves it, not only because he's won 100 caps but because of the the way he performed over those 100 caps; he's been the most consistent left-back in football for such a long period of time.


"It's the perfect gesture."

PA Media