Cole facing axe as Hodgson prepares to drop 'big name'
Manager Roy Hodgson admits he may have to break the heart of one of England's senior players this May.
The World Cup may be over two months away, but Hodgson gave a clear indication about which players are in his thoughts for Brazil on Thursday.
He named an enlarged squad of 30 players for next week's friendly against Denmark - the final game before he decides who will be on the plane to Brazil.
England's 30-man World Cup audition list
- Squad for Denmark friendly on Wednesday:
- Goalkeepers : Forster (Celtic), Foster (West Brom), Hart (Manchester City), Ruddy (Norwich City).
- Defenders: Baines (Everton), Cahill (Chelsea), Caulker (Cardiff City), Cole (Chelsea), Johnson (Liverpool), Shaw (Southampton), Smalling (Manchester United), Walker (Tottenham).
- Midfielders: Barkley (Everton), Carrick, Cleverley (both Manchester United), Gerrard, Henderson, Sterling (all Liverpool), Lallana (Southampton), Lampard (Chelsea), Milner (Manchester City), Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain (both Arsenal), Andros Townsend (Tottenham).
- Forwards: Defoe (Toronto), Lambert (Southampton), Rodriguez (Southampton), Rooney, Welbeck (both Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool).
FIFA's deadline for final squad submission is June 2, but Hodgson wants to name his party early so he will name his 23 players on May 13, with an additional seven players on standby.
The fact that 10 of the 30 players named have fewer than five caps shows Hodgson is more than willing to give youth a chance.
Hodgson sees the likes of the uncapped Luke Shaw, Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling and Everton midfielder Ross Barkley as potential aces in his pack.
Players like Frank Lampard, James Milner, Michael Carrick and in particular Ashley Cole, could therefore be omitted when the squad is whittled down in May.
"I am very conscious of the fact that I could have to leave a big name out,'' Hodgson said.
"It was a very different kettle of fish a couple of years ago [before Euro 2012], I don't think there was much debate then. It wasn't easy before the Euros to be honest. This time it is going to be even harder.
"Because before the Euros at least I was choosing names of players I knew and players I had seen play but had never really worked with.
"This time I will have to disappoint some people I have worked with who have maybe done a good job for me and the team.''
Of the senior players in the current squad, Cole's position is surely the one which is most under threat.
Cole has 106 caps to his name, he has played in the past three World Cups, but he can no longer command a first-team place at Chelsea.
Cole has started only 12 Premier League games so far this term and although Hodgson says he still "retains faith'' in the player, the England manager dropped a big hint that Shaw will get his chance to impress on Wednesday.
When asked whether the Southampton left-back would play some part against the Danes, Hodgson said: "It is a logical thought but I can't make promises.
"I think everyone who has watched him play recently will not deny that he deserves a place in a large squad like this.
"It would be nice if he gets to play on Wednesday night, but that decision hasn't been made.''
Lampard has played more games for Chelsea this year than Cole, but Hodgson has a plethora of options in midfield so a question mark remains over the 103-cap player.
"There are a lot of midfield players that are quality midfield players,'' Hodgson said.
"They all will be under some sort of pressure.''
Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez and Rickie Lambert were also selected, meaning Southampton have four players in the England squad for the first time.
Jordan Henderson also retains his place, as do Tom Cleverley, Fraser Forster and Andros Townsend.
More attention was placed upon the players who were not selected for Denmark.
Andy Carroll, Gareth Barry, Tom Huddlestone, Adam Johnson, Wilfried Zaha, Aaron Lennon and Ashley Young did not get the call.
But that does not mean they are out of the running for Brazil, Hodgson insists.
"This is not a definitive list,'' he added. "The fact someone is on this list does not say he will be going or be one of the seven standby players because I reserve the right to change my mind on those subjects.''