Hodgson talks up Cole’s England challengers

Roy Hodgson has spoken in praise of the number of left-backs at his disposal beyond the incumbent in the position, Chelsea’s Ashley Cole. The Daily Mirror reports the England manager highlighting the likes of Leighton Baines, Kieran Gibbs and Ryan Bertrand as potential international full-backs in the near future.

Cole is expected to win his 99th England cap against Poland on Tuesday evening but the 31-year-old is not only reaching the kind of age when thoughts of international retirement enter the mind, but is also in the midst of a Football Association charge for sending an abusive Twitter message after being criticised in the report into John Terry’s sanction for racially abusing the Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand.

Hodgson meanwhile noted that Cole should expect to be challenged for the No. 3 shirt by Everton’s Baines, who has played in every international since Euro 2012 as Cole has spent time out injured and rested, while Hodgson also pin-pointed two younger players, Gibbs and Bertrand, who could one day be ready to usurp Cole’s position.

We’re lucky that, alongside Ashley – who was regarded as the only left-back in England for many years – we have Leighton, who will always push him and some interesting younger left-backs, such as Gibbs and Bertrand,” Hodgson said.

He added: “I would think the competition (for Ashley) is as great as it’s ever been, even though Leighton has been around for a long time. There are some very good young players coming on to the scene and the experienced players will find it harder and harder to fight off the challenge of these younger players.

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