Grant not afraid to risk Cole
Avram Grant has insisted that Ashley Cole is mentally fit enough to face Reading on Wednesday.
By Chris Burton
Last Updated: 30/01/08 7:58am
Avram Grant has insisted that, if called upon, Ashley Cole is mentally fit enough to face Reading on Wednesday.
The Chelsea full-back was left out of the Blues' Carling Cup semi-final second leg at Everton last week, and was missing once again for the FA Cup at Wigan on Saturday.
The England international has faced a number of allegations involving his private life over the past week, but his club manager insists that the media circus currently surrounding Cole was not the reason behind his choice to leave him out of their last two games.
Grant says that squad rotation was the simple reason for Cole's recent absence and that he fully expects the player to be ready to play a part against Steve Coppell's Royals if required.
"There is no problem with his mind," said the Chelsea boss.
"He's a full professional, he's ready. But I'm trying to rotate the players to keep them fresh because we have a lot of games. In his position (at left-back) we can do it. But he's okay.
"I choose players with a good head on their shoulders. But most of the players here are professionals.
"Sometimes they have ups and downs but if they are professional it doesn't disturb them.
"Players need to be professional. It's a state of mind, not just if you drink or don't drink. This is obvious. It's many things. How you look about the game, how you look forward, if you pass too much -it's many things. It's very important what you have in your head.
"In football you need to choose players with character. I say to them I test you how you behave in the very good days, if you still want to learn and progress or if you think you know everything, and also in the bad days - if you take responsibility or if you think everyone else is to blame. I want players to behave whether they win or lose games."
Cole's place in the side is currently being filled by Wayne Bridge, and Grant feels that both of his left-backs deserve to be included in Fabio Capello's first England squad when the Italian makes his choices on Saturday.
"I think Capello needs to take Bridge and Ashley Cole," said Grant.
"This is my opinion. They are the two best left-backs in the country.
"Capello has been in touch with me. I am also positive. We spoke about football. It was positive. Very positive.
"The England players that belong to Chelsea deserve to be there. They have done it under big pressure the last few weeks.
"They deserve to be in the squad. I think England have good players and you will see a good national team."