Roy Hodgson has indicated that the competition between Ashley Cole and Leighton Baines to be England's No 1 left-back is wide open, after 12 years of the Chelsea man having dominated the position in the team when fit.
Cole will win his 106th cap if he plays some part against Chile at Wembley, but he was described by the England manager only as a "potential" left-back, having missed the two final World Cup qualifiers last month through injury. Baines took his place for those games against Montenegro and Poland, and Hodgson said that he had not decided which of the pair would play in the game and which would feature on Tuesday against Germany.
On Cole, who has been left out of Chelsea's last two games, Hodgson said that he believed the 32-year-old had performed "perfectly well" on the occasions he had seen him play. "It's not for me to pick Chelsea's team," he added. "Jose [Mourinho] has competition for places and has to make decisions. From an England perspective, I'm still very happy to consider Ashley Cole as a potential English left-back.
"But as you know, and have known for some time, the competition for that spot is particularly fierce because Baines is also playing well and on top of that we have Kieran Gibbs and Luke Shaw, two younger players but who I think can definitely put these more senior ones under some pressure. I would definitely not be concerned, if there were no Ashley Cole or Leighton Baines, about Gibbs or Shaw playing."
Hodgson would not disclose his line-up for the Chile match, although he confirmed that in the absence of the injured Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard would captain the team to mark his 100th cap. He will be presented with a golden cap to commemorate the achievement – reached against Ukraine in September – by Sir Geoff Hurst and his father, Frank senior.
Joe Hart will not play, with the likelihood that John Ruddy will make his first start in goal for England. Hodgson also said that the Southampton pair of Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez will play some part in the game, although he would not confirm whether they would start the match. Rickie Lambert, Daniel Sturridge and Kyle Walker will miss the game through injury in the hope that they will recover for Tuesday.
Hodgson said: "I'm not trying to play down the importance of winning games because it's always important to keep unbeaten runs going, but I'm not going to do it if it will be to the detriment of having a look at some players."
Four to watch Chile's danger men at Wembley
Claudio Bravo The Real Sociedad keeper captains the national side and shone against Manchester United last week.
Gary Medel Small and stocky, the Cardiff utility man has made an impressive start to life in the Premier League.
Matias Fernandez Fiorentina midfielder provides a goal threat with his tricky feet and ability from set pieces.
Alexis Sanchez Versatile Barcelona forward has finally come good at the Nou Camp and will lead Chile's attack.
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