Cole's flashes of finesse are enough to sway Capello

Despite a poor season, Chelsea man is still the one who can produce the unexpected

Joe Cole has not done much this season for Chelsea that justifies his inclusion in Fabio Capello's provisional World Cup squad but one moment of audacious skill was enough. Cole's back-heeled finish to put Chelsea ahead at Old Trafford on Easter Saturday was not just a sublime piece of finishing, more importantly it gave Chelsea the impetus to go on and claim a victory that manager Carlo Ancelotti later admitted was the most important of their title-winning season.

Cole has had a miserable season at Chelsea after coming back from a nine-month recovery from tearing his cruciate ligaments. He has achieved little to advance his case when he meets the club next week to negotiate a new contract. But still he produced a flash of inspiration at the precise moment his team needed it.

His statistics show two goals from 38 games in all competitions for Chelsea this season. More worryingly perhaps, his club manager Ancelotti has allowed him to play the full 90 minutes of a Premier League game only three times.

Yet that touch of class at Manchester United was enough to convince Capello that he cannot afford to be without possibly the most talented player at his disposal. Wayne Rooney is the jewel in England's crown but last November he was only too happy to admit that Cole, 28, is a far more skilful player.

Cole's cheeky goal against United was just the reminder Capello needed, for the midfielder has been in the international wilderness for the past 18 months. The last of his 53 caps came in the memorable 4-1 win over Croatia in Zagreb in September 2008, the game in which Theo Walcott scored a hat-trick. Four months later Cole tore his ligaments in an FA Cup third-round replay at Southend and his life was turned upside down.

The prolonged absence from the England set-up has given Cole a greater appreciation of what it means to play for his country. He said recently: "It just puts more fire in my belly to get there. I will try everything. I'll put my heart and soul into getting into that team. Don't bet against me when I'm in that frame of mind. It's a tall ask but all I need to do is to get back to playing my best and I think I'll merit a place in the starting 11."

Cole's form this season has barely merited his place in the 30-man provisional squad, let alone the starting XI where Steven Gerrard is now settled in the role on the left of the midfield that once belonged to Cole. Capello is clearly an adherent to that old sporting cliché "form is temporary, class is permanent".

Since returning from injury, Cole has struggled for Chelsea. He even suffered the humiliation of being substituted at half-time during an FA Cup tie with Cardiff City in February after one of the worst 45 minutes of his career.

Ancelotti has not given the midfielder much time on the pitch of late but with good reason. Instead of Cole, this season it has been the French winger Florent Malouda who has forced his way into the Italian's side by the sheer brilliance of his football.

Cole looked lively and inventive when he came from the substitutes' bench in Chelsea's 8-0 victory parade against Wigan Athletic on Sunday, something more like his old self, but most commentators felt it was too little, too late for inclusion in Capello's 30-man provisional squad.

It will have counted in his favour that Cole is one of the few players available to Capello who has a proven track record at a major tournament. He was selected by Sven Goran Eriksson for the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004 squads but ended up being little more than a squad player, with just one appearance as a substitute against Sweden in 2002. However his time came in the 2006 World Cup, where he was, along with Owen Hargreaves, one of the few bright lights in what was another disappointing campaign for England.

Cole started in all five of England's games and also scored one of the goals of the tournament with a long-range volley against Sweden. In a recent interview he said: "It's probably my favourite. Someone showed me they'd been watching the greatest World Cup goals ever and it was up there in the Top 10 with people like [Diego] Maradona and [Roberto] Baggio, my heroes. But when I'd done it, I was just thinking we'd got Ecuador in a couple of days. People always want to talk about it but I hate dwelling on it because I want to go to the next World Cup and score a better one."

That kind of skill, the proven ability to produce the unexpected out of nothing, is what marks Cole out as different from the likes of James Milner, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Adam Johnson, the men he is competing with for a place in Capello's final 23. Whether it will be enough for the likeable midfielder to make the final squad will be one of the most compelling issues of the coming weeks.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence