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Chelsea defender Ashley Cole dropped for World Cup, retires from England duty
MANCHESTER, England - Ashley Cole was left out of the England World Cup squad on Sunday, prompting the veteran Chelsea defender to announce his retirement from international duty.
England coach Roy Hodgson said omitting the 33-year-old Cole was part of his plan to "look to the future," making it likely Luke Shaw will be the backup to Leighton Baines at left back in Brazil despite only making his international debut in March.
Ahead of Monday's public squad announcement, Hodgson rang the players who were not among the 23 players being taken to Brazil.
"I got the call from Roy and agree England team should be about the young players," Cole wrote on his Twitter account. "I think it best I retire from England team now ... like me or not, trust me it's hurt me to stop playing for my country."
After making his England debt in 2001, Cole went on to win 107 caps, the last coming in the 1-0 friendly win over Denmark in March.
"Among many difficult decisions I've had to make for my squad, not selecting Ashley was one of the hardest," Hodgson said. "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 which 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."
Cole, who fell out of contention for England after losing his starting spot at Chelsea this season, endorsed Baines of Everton and Southampton teenager Shaw.
"Baines and Shaw are great players, proved this season, and are the future of this country, it was a pleasure to get 107 caps," Cole tweeted.
Before England opens the World Cup against Italy on June 14, Hodgson's side has friendlies against Peru at Wembley Stadium, and Ecuador and Honduras in Miami.
"We have a great manager and team and I wish them only success," Cole said. "I will be supporting them like a true fan."
Hodgson's intention to take younger players in Brazil could see Chelsea teammate Frank Lampard also miss out on the World Cup despite 103 international appearances. The 20-year-old Everton midfielder Ross Barkley is being tipped as another youngster to make the squad as Hodgson blends a dynamic team to make an impact in Brazil.
There was encouraging news for Hodgson on Sunday over midfielder Jack Wilshere, who returned to action for Arsenal after spending two months on the sidelines since fracturing his left foot in England's friendly win over Denmark in March.
"He can play now, so it shows you that there is no problem for him to be available for England," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said after Sunday's 2-0 win at Norwich.
Another Arsenal midfielder, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, should also be fit for the World Cup despite being out for three weeks with a groin injury, according to Wenger.
"He should reintegrate into the squad on Wednesday in normal training," said Wenger, whose side plays Hull in the FA Cup final on Saturday. "He will be available for Roy to pick him. I wouldn't be surprised if he was picked."
Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris
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