Failure to get Atletico nod could spell end for Cole
Jose Mourinho is set to overlook Ashley Cole for Chelsea's Champions League semi-final clash with Atletico Madrid, casting serious doubt on the left-back's future at Stamford Bridge.
Failure to play against Atletico would also place a question mark against Cole's claim for a place in England's World Cup squad, handing an advantage to Southampton teenager Luke Shaw.
Mourinho is without the suspended Branislav Ivanovic for Tuesday night's first leg in Madrid, which appeared to hand an opportunity to 33-year-old Cole. But rather than bringing Cole in at left-back and moving Cesar Azpilicueta to the right, Mourinho is looking at different options, including replacing Ivanovic with David Luiz and leaving Azpilicueta on the left.
Cole's contract expires at the end of the season and he has not started for Chelsea since January 26. Mourinho has insisted Cole will be offered an extension but leaving him out against Atletico would indicate that the player's future is bleak.
Chelsea are considering pulling out of the race to sign Shaw, with Manchester United prepared to pay £30m for the 18-year-old and offer him first-team guarantees.
The Blues are also interested in Sevilla left-back Alberto Moreno. Cole was pictured at the Christmas party of his former club Arsenal in December, but Chelsea insist there has not been a falling-out between him and Mourinho over the incident.
Cole has kept his counsel on his omission and has been praised by Azpilicueta for the support he has given him in moving to left-back.
Chelsea have yet to offer him a new deal. The club have opened contract talks with captain John Terry.
"I know that John wants to stay at Chelsea, and Chelsea want John to stay, so, hopefully, that situation can be concluded amicably over the next few weeks," said assistant coach Steve Holland, ahead of today's league game at home to Sunderland.
Cole is battling Shaw to take the second left-back spot behind Leighton Baines in England's squad for Brazil. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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