Roy Hodgson tells Joe Cole to prove himself

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The Independent Online

Liverpool midfielder Joe Cole's injury-time winner at the weekend may have eased the pressure on Roy Hodgson but the manager has told the England international he still has plenty to prove.

The 29-year-old came off the bench with eight minutes to go against Bolton on Saturday and tapped home in added time to snatch a 2-1 victory.

It was Cole's first Barclays Premier League goal for the club having made 10 appearances since joining in the summer.

Injury saw the former Chelsea player lose his place in the side in November and he has yet to win it back.

And although his goal earned Hodgson, whose position has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks, some breathing space Cole has been urged to start delivering on a more regular basis.

Hodgson said: "His goal was good. He came on late in the game after David Ngog and Fernando Torres had wreaked havoc, causing enormous problems to Bolton's defence.

"He has to make sure whenever he gets a chance he takes it because there is competition up there.

"Ryan Babel has done well in one or two European games, Ngog and Fernando have continued to do well so it looks to me that up front we are looking a bit stronger than I estimated we were.

"But I still would not be adverse to improving the squad in the transfer window were the right players to become available and were the owners able to give us the backing to spend some money."

Key to turning around the game against Bolton was the re-emergence of Torres' once-prolific partnership with Steven Gerrard.

In previous seasons the pair's almost telepathic understanding has seen them provide Liverpool's spearhead.

Gerrard came off the bench midway through the first half to replace the injured Raul Meireles, whose ankle problem means he will miss tonight's match at Blackburn, and created both goals after the break.

His pass for Torres to volley in the first was sublime, while another quality delivery from the right allowed Cole to ultimately benefit.

Signs that his two major players were beginning to play in synch again was very much welcomed by Hodgson.

"Torres was outstanding. All along people have wanted to bury Fernando and I think that was very harsh," he said.

"I see him every day in training, I see what he is capable of doing and he is working hard and wants to do well for us.

"It was world-class stuff from him on occasions, as it was from Steven Gerrard.

"Our equaliser was a magnificent piece of work and if we are going to have a good season those two players need to be firing on all cylinders and that was the case.

"There are players at the club who are battling to find their real top form but I thought everyone was so much closer to it (against Bolton) than in matches in the past.

"Fernando got right back where he belongs and if we can keep that going I am certain the form of all the players will improve with the confidence that comes with being a little bit higher in the table and being able to look upwards rather than downwards."

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