Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea stick to guns in Ashley Cole row

By Jim Gracey

The furore over the Ashley Cole shooting incident refused to go away ahead of tonight’s Premier League crunch against Manchester United, despite Chelsea’s best efforts to play down the controversy.

Questions continued to be asked today about disciplinary standards at Chelsea and those of a player who saw fit to bring a gun to the club training ground.

Cole has been fined two weeks wages, a whopping quarter of a million pounds, after discharging the loaded weapon in a bout of horseplay, accidentally wounding a work placement student in the head.

Surrey police have now launched a legal investigation into Cole’s shooting of 21-year-old Tom Cowan with a .22 air rifle at the club's Cobham training ground last Sunday.

But with Chelsea on the defensive, coach Carlo Ancelotti continued to be protective of both the club and Cole.

Ancelotti hit out at demands for Chelsea to throw the book at Cole, clearly annoyed at the distraction to his preparations for tonight’s vital game.

But in an unfortunate choice of words, given the nature of the incident, the Italian fumed: “What do we have to do now — kill him?

Ancelotti also insisted that sacking Cole was not an option.

“No. We have to support him,” he rapped.

“It would be very different if he had not said sorry, but he has.

“We are really disappointed for the guy who was involved and was a victim of this.”

Cole broke club rules banning weapons from Chelsea's training ground.

It is not the first time the 30-year-old's behaviour has landed him in trouble, with the left-back also having been investigated by club officials after allegations arising from a pre-season US tour in 2009.

Ancelotti claimed sacking Cole had never crossed his mind, insisting the player had otherwise been a model professional.

“He made a mistake last week. Two years ago, he made a mistake. This is true,” Ancelotti conceded.

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