Ashley Cole captaincy decision justified says England manager Roy Hodgson

Cole was evidently delighted at the reception he received from a capacity crowd

A rare show of emotion from Ashley Cole underlined why Roy Hodgson felt it was right to make the defender England captain for one night only.

Cole was evidently delighted at the reception he received from a capacity crowd as he collected his ceremonial 100th cap from Hodgson prior to last night's 1-1 draw with the Republic of Ireland.

The ovation was repeated as Cole made his way off early in the second-half.

He then bubbled with pride as he spoke of the opportunity to wear the coveted captain's armband being the stand-out moment of his entire career.

It proved Hodgson had been correct to honour one of the true world-class talents in the England fold.

"I was disappointed people were suggesting we were not doing the right thing," said Hodgson.

"Any fair-minded person would have wanted Ashley Cole to lead the team out.

"We know that Ashley isn't a captain of England, he doesn't pretend to be.

"But it would have been very sad had we denied him the opportunity to lead the team out on the day he received his 100th cap and show our appreciation of how well this man has done for England over the years.

"It was great he came off the field to such a great reception."

That Cole should end his evening in roughly the same state he started it was a merciful blessing.

A serious-looking ankle injury to Daniel Sturridge, coupled with Danny Welbeck's on-going knee problem, have stretched Hodgson's desire to maintain a tight group to maximise playing time to the limit.

Rather than flesh out his squad with players who had little chance of being involved at next summer's World Cup, or disrupt preparations ahead of the European Under-21 Championships - other than the inclusion of Manchester City's Jack Rodwell - Hodgson has absorbed a mounting list of injuries.

However, in choosing not to ask for additional cover when his squad fly out to Brazil for Sunday's prestigious friendly in the Maracana Stadium, Hodgson will find himself with just 15 fit outfield players should Welbeck fail to recover.

"It is far too late to call anyone else up," said Hodgson.

"We have been unlucky, haven't we? We were hoping to see Andy Carroll this time, hoping to see Danny Welbeck - although he is not ruled out of the Brazil game of yet, he may recover.

"But we haven't been lucky when it comes to our strikers. In fact, going into these two games we weren't that lucky with some of the players we were hoping to see and couldn't select.

"But every time a player can't take part it is an opportunity for somebody else."

In this instance, that might mean a chance for Jermain Defoe to give Hodgson a nudge after the Tottenham man seemed to be slipping down the pecking order.

There is also the option of utilising Theo Walcott's pace in a more central role against the World Cup hosts, which would allow James Milner to offer additional protection against Brazil's marauding full-backs, who will only add to the threat generated by Barcelona-bound Neymar.

To watch Gary Cahill hesitate and gift the Republic their lead last night did not inspire confidence ahead of a meeting with a side whose slide down the rankings to number 19 seems at odds with their potential.

Yet Hodgson actually felt it was one of the strengths of England's performance.

"Defensively we were much more aggressive," he said.

"We were getting much closer to people and weren't giving them any time on the ball.

"I will be hoping that we are able to do the same thing against Brazil, albeit their style of play if very difficult.

"You have to be ready for those stars but also keep to your principles."

PA

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