Hodgson gives Cole glimmer of World Cup hope

London: England manager Roy Hodgson suggested on Monday that Ashley Cole could be asked to make an international comeback in case of a pre-World Cup injury to rival left-back Leighton Baines.

Cole, 33, retired from international football on Sunday after being informed by Hodgson that he did not feature in his 23-man squad for the World Cup in Brazil, which was unveiled in Luton on Monday.

Chelsea defender Cole, England`s most-capped full-back with 107 caps, has lost his place in the starting XI to Everton`s Baines this season.

But rather than include Cole as back-up, Hodgson decided to hand an opportunity to 18-year-old Southampton defender Luke Shaw, who is reportedly the subject of a £27 million ($45.5 million, 33.1 million euros) bid from Manchester United.

As Cole was not named on Hodgson`s seven-man standby list, he could only be brought into the squad if one of England`s players suffered an injury after Hodgson presents his final squad list to FIFA on June 2.

Asked if a line of communication with Cole had been kept open in case of an emergency, Hodgson told reporters: "You`d have to ask Ashley that one. I would like to think so."

Justifying his decision not to pick Cole, he added: "I`ve heard the question, `If Leighton Baines got injured, wouldn`t Ashley be the right answer?`, and of the course the answer to that is, `Yes, he would be.`

"But Ashley Cole isn`t really a cover player. Ashley Cole is a number-one man. And when I decided that probably Baines today might be the number one, then I decided that the next one I`d take along wouldn`t be Ashley; it would be Luke Shaw."

Shaw`s Southampton team-mate Adam Lallana is also the subject of transfer speculation, amid reports that Liverpool have declared an interest in signing him.

Hodgson, though, does not want any of his players to be distracted in the build-up to the World Cup and declared that he would not tolerate "agents swirling around" the team`s hotel in Rio de Janeiro."The one thing I am going to be very firm on is that when we`re together as England, we`re England, and it`s England that matters and if you`ve got matters to resolve, you do it outside of England time," he said.

After travelling to Portugal for a training camp next week, England will play a friendly game at home to Peru on May 30 before flying to Miami, where they will face Honduras and Ecuador.

They open their World Cup campaign with a Group D fixture against Italy in Manaus on June 14, but Hodgson said that he had not yet settled on his tactical approach for the game.

"I`ve had many ideas, but firm ideas, no, because first of all it`s such a long way off," he said.

"I don`t know how the players are going to be performing in three or four weeks` time, I don`t know about the fitness."

Asked if he had decided whether England would start the game with a two-man central midfield or a three-man configuration, Hodgson replied: "Not yet, no. There`s no need to do that yet."

Shaw was one of several young players selected by Hodgson, including 19-year-old Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling and 20-year-old midfielders Ross Barkley, of Everton, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, of Arsenal.

It will be one of the most youthful England squads ever to compete at a major tournament, but Hodgson said that fans should not expect his young charges to adopt an all-action, high-pressing game.

"With the players we`ve got now, there are a lot of very mobile, athletic, pacy players in the team," he said.

"I don`t want to be quoted as saying we are going to play a high pressing game, because that automatically assumes that every time their goalkeeper rolls the ball out to someone level with him, some 150 yards from our goal, we`re going to fly out, (move the) back line up to the halfway line, and fly people forward."

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