Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Wilkins backs Chelsea's Cole for World Cup

Ray Wilkins believes Joe Cole can still claim a place in England's World Cup squad next summer.

Chelsea's assistant boss revealed Cole has come through some difficult times after being out for eight months with knee ligament problems.

The 27-year-old will be in Chelsea's starting line-up for the first time since last January when the Blues take on QPR in the Carling Cup at Stamford Bridge tonight.

Cole is desperate to rekindle his career and bag a place in Fabio Capello's World Cup squad next summer and with a good season behind him, Wilkins says he has every chance of making it.

"The important thing with Joe is that he's had a few problems with his knees, but his knee is far better prepared for football now," said Wilkins.

"He's a much stronger footballer now. He'll be a bit ring rusty, but he's put so much work in it's lovely to see him back. It's been tough for him. But the workload he's put in has been phenomenal.

"It's not easy. The cruciate ligament injury is a difficult one to recover from, not physically because medicine has come on, but mentally.

"There are periods when any player who has this injury gets down in the dumps, but we've rallied round him. It's been a bonus getting him back out on the training pitch.

"You always worry it might go again when you get back to playing. The cruciate is a nasty one to overcome and you're always wondering about that first kick you get, but he's received a number of kicks in training and he's coped with that.

"He will give us something different as well. The World Cup is a lovely carrot for him - to work back into Fabio's reckoning.

"A fully fit Joe Cole will be very much around the England squad. He could play in any of those three positions in the midfield diamond.

"He calls it the 'sausage roll'. The 'sausage roll in the hole'. That's Joe. But it's nice to see he's bubbling."

"Joe understands we're not playing with wide players at the moment. We're playing 'inside'. He'll play in that 'sausage roll' tomorrow."

Chelsea will blood some of their academy players against Rangers but Deco is still out with a calf problem and Daniel Sturridge has a similar injury.

Cole will be joined by Yuri Zhirkov in the starting line-up in his first appearance since signing from CSKA Moscow in the summer.

Chelsea will rest Ricardo Carvalho and Nicolas Anelka, while Didier Drogba will resume training on Thursday after being taken off on a stretcher against Tottenham on Sunday with a calf injury.

A scan showed no damage to the calf and Drogba will be included in the squad for Saturday's trip to Wigan in the Barclays Premier League.

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