World Cup: Steven Gerrard hails England colleague Ashley Cole as 'one of the best'
Last Updated: October 16, 2012 7:49am
Steven Gerrard says he will welcome Ashley Cole back to the England team if the Chelsea star returns to the starting XI against Poland tonight.
Over the past fortnight Cole has found himself in trouble for a four-letter outburst on Twitter that led to him accepting an FA misconduct charge.
Cole offered FA chairman David Bernstein a personal apology over the issue, without which his place in Warsaw might have been in question.
If selected Cole and Gerrard will win their 99th England caps.
"It is important to speak about Ashley as a player," said Gerrard. "Privately he is quite quiet and reserved. But he comes alive on the pitch.
"It's been an absolute pleasure to play with him over the years. He's been one of the best left-backs this country has ever produced. Let's enjoy the last few years of his time with us."
Hodgson says he is under no pressure from the FA over the selection of Cole.
"That's been dealt with very clearly this week," said Hodgson. "We had the incident and the situation, and that was dealt with to the FA's satisfaction.
"The chairman made his views very clear. I've been allowed to concentrate on football and to work with Ashley on the field. That is all.
Cole's return is likely, but perhaps not the certainty it would have been a few years ago, with Leighton Baines picked in the last four matches.
"Ashley is still a fantastic player," said Hodgson. "We are lucky though, because Ashley was regarded as the only left-back in England for many years.
"Now we have Leighton Baines, who will always push him and some interesting younger left-backs like Kieran Gibbs and Ryan Bertrand.
"It's been a problem position in many of the countries I've worked, but we are very well off, which is encouraging because, if anything, the importance of their role has increased."