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Hodgson: Dropping Cole, ‘one of my toughest decisions’

Hodgson: Dropping Cole, ‘one of my toughest decisions’
May 12
21:07 2014

England manager, Roy Hodgson, claims leaving Ashley Cole out of his World Cup squad is one of the hardest decisions of his career.

Cole, 33, announced his international retirement on Twitter last night after turning down a place on Hodgson’s standby list of seven players in support of his 23-man squad for the tournament in Brazil, which begins on June 12.

It brings to an end, a 13-year career in which he amassed 107 caps, making him the fifth most-capped player in England’s history, with just one appearance shy of Bobby Moore’s all-time record for a defender.

“Among many difficult decisions I’ve had to make for my squad, not selecting Ashley was one of the hardest,” Hodgson said.

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“He’s been an incredible competitor for England, to amass over a century of caps is a truly staggering achievement, and he deserves enormous credit for the desire and brilliance that he has shone through over the years he has represented his country.

“There are few players who can be considered among the very best in the world, but Ashley in his prime was the best left-back without question.”

Hodgson revealed he spoke to Cole yesterday to inform him of the decision out of respect to the longevity and consistency of his international career.

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“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,” said Hodgson.

“In two years working with him, he has shown nothing but relentless professionalism and a great hunger to play for England. He is someone I have the utmost respect for, and I wished him all the best. He, in turn, wished the team well this summer. 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 tweeted: “I got the call from Roy and agree the England team should be about the young players — I think it best I retire from the England team now.”

The Chelsea defender will be replaced by Luke Shaw, 18, who has enjoyed a fine season at Southampton, but has only made one senior appearance for England, in February’s 1-0 win over Denmark.

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