England World Cup squad: Ashley Cole axe was 'one of the hardest decisions', says Roy Hodgson

Luke Shaw and Leighton Baines will be going to Brazil instead

Ashley Cole has announced his decision to retire from international football after being omitted from England's World Cup squad.

Everton's Leighton Baines and Southampton's Luke Shaw will be Roy Hodgson's left-back choices for Brazil. The manager will announce his 23-man squad plus the seven players on stand-by on Monday afternoon.

Cole, 33, won 107 caps between 2001 and 2014, and would have been the first Englishman to feature in four World Cup finals.

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"I got the call from Roy and agree that the England team should be about the young players," Cole tweeted on Sunday night. "I think it is best I retire from the England team now.

"We have a great manager and team and I wish them only success. I will be supporting them like a true fan.

"Baines and Shaw are great players, and have proved it this season. They are the future of this country and it was a pleasure to get 107 caps."

Hodgson admitted leaving the Chelsea player out was one of the hardest decisions he has had to make in his career.

"Among many difficult decisions I've had to make for my squad, not selecting Ashley was one of the hardest," the manager revealed on Sunday night.

"The most important factor was speaking to Ashley prior to the announcement on Monday, he deserved to hear it directly from me and he took the news with huge grace."

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Hodgson added: "Of course I must respect his decision to retire, he has been one of England's finest players, but I want to look to the future.

"It has been one of the hardest decisions of my career."

Cole lost his place in the Chelsea team in late January and missed 18 games under Jose Mourinho before being recalled for the first leg of the Champions League semi-final against Atletico Madrid.

It is understood that the striker Andy Carroll will be one of Hodgson's seven stand-by players. The West Ham man, however, had already left for his holiday last night and will have to return to the country for the squad meet-up next week.

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