Anyone with a basic grasp of maths will know that two into one doesn’t go. In this case, England manager Roy Hodgson must decide which one of Ashley Cole and Luke Shaw will be selected to go to the World Cup as Leighton Baines’ understudy.
England take on Denmark in a friendly at Wembley and arguably the biggest talking point surrounds the battle for the one remaining left-back position, after Hodgson saw fit to call up Southampton’s teenage sensation Shaw alongside the vastly experienced Cole.
It’s a vital game in the Three Lions’ prep for the World Cup, where the hosts are the 4/6 favourites to prevail, and for these two players at polar opposite ends of their club careers, it looks set to be a straight up audition; The Voice-style.
With 106 caps under his belt – the most for a full-back in England history – Cole surely would have been a shoo-in for Brazil had he not been dropped for the majority of the season by returning Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.
In conjunction with his omission from the Blues’ line-up, the emergence of Saints’ latest roving left-back has thrown Cole’s place on the plane to Rio into serious jeopardy.
The hugely assured performances of 18-year-old Shaw in the Premier League have been breathtaking for someone of his age and this has not escaped Hodgson, who clearly sees a big international future for the lad.
It seems almost certain that the two men will be given a half apiece at Wembley to show Hodgson their capabilities and in Cole’s case, whether or not he has retained enough match sharpness.
England bosses have a habit of throwing a teenager into the squad at major tournaments, but it remains to be seen whether Hodgson goes for youth over experience this time.
It’s a big call for the man in England’s red chair.
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