English football star Ashley Cole is facing the end of his international career following the announcement the wing-back has not been selected as part of Roy Hodgson's squad of 23 for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil.
The Telegraph's Matt Law and John Percy reported the news on Sunday, while explaining his spot will most likely be taken by Southampton's Luke Shaw:
Telegraph Sport understands Cole has spoken to Roy Hodgson, the England manager, on Sunday evening and was informed he would not be in contention for the 23-man squad that flies to Brazil.
Cole, 33, is believed to have been asked if he would consider being named on the standby list but declined the offer and is now likely to retire from international football.
The Chelsea defender's exclusion from Hodgson's squad is the latest blow in a difficult season in which he has been marginalised by Jose Mourinho.
It now seems certain that in Cole's absence Southampton's Luke Shaw will be on the plane.
Cole addressed the situation on Twitter, revealing he has decided to retire from international play as a result:
I got the call from Roy and agree England team should be about the young players. I think it best I retire from England team now. 😢😢— Ashley Cole (@TheRealAC3) May 11, 2014
We have a great manager and team and I wish them only success. I will be supporting them like a true fan. Thanks to everyone for everything— Ashley Cole (@TheRealAC3) May 11, 2014
The news is surprising because Cole is by far England's most experienced option at wing-back, and while Cesar Azpilicueta may have taken over the starting role as Chelsea's left-back from the former Arsenal man, he was still expected to be in contention to start in Hodgson's 11.
The Mirror's Oliver Holt struggled with the decision, applauding the manager for electing to give Shaw a chance but realising Cole is one of only a handful of England players to have consistently performed up to standards on the international stage:
Harsh on Ashley Cole who has been one of England's true world class players on international stage but invigorating decision to take Shaw— Oliver Holt (@OllieHolt22) May 11, 2014
The Telegraph's Henry Winters thought Cole was still the team's best defensive left-back when picking his Premier League Team of the Season just a few weeks ago:
Baines & Shaw great going forward but a reminder tonight that Cole is still the best defensive left-back available to #eng— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) April 22, 2014
Even Gunnerblog felt like Hodgson was making a mistake, noting that if Arsenal fans were suddenly in Cole's corner, something has to be said for the situation:
When even Arsenal fans are saying Cole should have gone to the World Cup, you know it's a big call.— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) May 11, 2014
Is Roy Hodgson making a mistake not selecting Ashley Cole?
Although Cole reportedly turned down a position on England's stand-by list, one can only imagine the veteran would be hard-pressed to turn down the opportunity of representing his country one last time should injury befall the team. While Cole's message on his Twitter account seems very clear, the thought of playing in a World Cup can do funny things with a player.
But if this is indeed the end of Cole's tenure as a member of the Three Roses, it perhaps is not the end fans would have wanted to see, or the swan-song the veteran would have wanted. With Shaw and Leighton Baines ready to take over Cole's mantle as England's starting left-back, the position seems to be in good hands moving forward.
Cole never won any silverware on the international level, with the World Cup and European Championship the only two trophies eluding the Chelsea man throughout his illustrious career. As it stands, it looks like the left-back will never taste the ultimate joy of success with the colours of England draped around his torso.