Cole focuses on the need to improve goalscoring form

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The Independent Online

The England midfielder Joe Cole wants to improve his goal return as Chelsea look to continue their charge towards a second successive Premiership title with victory over Aston Villa tonight.

Cole is determined to show that off-the-field episodes have not affected his focus on the pitch.

The Chelsea midfielder was involved in a fight in the early hours of the morning after Chelsea's third-round FA Cup win over Huddersfield at the start of January. He has also reportedly received threatening letters delivered to the club's training ground.

Cole, however, is determined to continue the progress he has made since becoming a regular in Jose Mourinho's side, and, as far as he is concerned, that means that he must start hitting the net more frequently, starting with tonight's match.

"I have been a regular in the Chelsea side for the last 12 months or so and shown my worth to the team," said Cole. "Yet football is a fickle game and I know things can change quickly. People want to see you do the business every week.

"The whole team need to keep on top of things and we want to keep a nice cushion at the top of the table. You can never rest on your laurels because the standards are so high at Chelsea and you need to be at your best every game you play in.

"One of the areas I would like to improve is my goalscoring. I scored between five and seven goals a season when I was at West Ham. OK, I'm not like Frank Lampard who can shoot from 30 yards. I need to get the ball a bit closer to goal. Even so, I'll be working my hardest to get that goal ratio up."

Cole has managed to sustain a long run in the side this season even when Mourinho has opted to rotate his squad.

More changes are likely for the trip to Villa Park tonight with Didier Drogba still on African Nations' Cup duty with Ivory Coast and Mourinho fully aware of the importance of Sunday's game against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.

But Cole is not afraid of the missing the odd game whenever it suits the manager to make changes to his starting line-up.

"I know people talk a lot about squad rotation and how players do or don't like it, but there's no doubt in my mind that if you are going to challenge on a number of fronts, you need strength in depth," said Cole, "even if it means taking a breather when you don't really want to."

Chelsea's England left-back Wayne Bridge has revealed that he turned down the chance to move to Tottenham because they wanted him to play in midfield.

Bridge, who moved on loan to Fulham until the end of the season in the hope of winning a place in England's squad for this summer's World Cup finals, said: "I don't want to say too much about Tottenham. I could have gone there if I wanted - but I didn't want to.

"They said they couldn't guarantee me first-team football, and actually said they wanted me to play left midfield. That's somewhere I didn't want to play. I wanted to play left-back and that was a big factor."

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