Ashley Cole set to earn his 100th cap for England


Chelsea defender Ashley Cole is justly proud as he prepares to earn his 100th cap for England when the Three Lions face Brazil at Wembley on Wednesday. Cole, aged 32, revealed how a brief chat with former Arsenal player David Rocastle, who died from cancer in 2001, inspired him to be a football player as a child. "I am proud, privileged and overwhelmed by how many times I have done it," said Cole. "After he spoke to me for those five minutes, it was all I wanted to be. I supported Arsenal at the time and he was someone I wanted to be like. Now I look back and think what a great career I have had but I will never forget speaking to him."

Cole made his debut for the national team back in March 2001 against Albania. Now he will become the seventh England player to reach 100 appearances when he lines up against Brazil. "Ashley will definitely start the game," said England boss Roy Hodgson. "I'll have to see what to do with fellow left-back Leighton Baines, who has been doing very well."

There were suggestions Cole may lead the team out against Brazil instead of captain Steven Gerrard but Hodgson ruled out such a prospect. Gerrard already won his 100th cap in a friendly against Sweden last November and he and Cole will both feature in the starting eleven at Wembley. "I don't see any reason why the captain should let anyone else lead the team out," explained Hodgson. "Ashley does his talking and work on the field and I don't think he's ever pushed himself forward during his 100 appearances as a potential captain of the team. I think he's just very happy to be a key player in the team so I'm pretty certain he won't be trying to rip the armband off Steven. If he does I might have to step in."

The game against Brazil will be a dressed rehearsal for England's two World Cup qualifiers in March against San Marino and Montenegro. "Experiment is not a word I really want to use. We're taking the game too seriously for me to even entertain the word experiment, but on the other hand it is a friendly match," said Hodgson. For us it's another important step along the way. We think it's a great way to start 2013 and our 150th anniversary, and we'll be doing our best to play well and get a good result, but finally for me it's a question of knowing by March what our best team is and what players play best together."

Roy Hodgson has three absences to worry about as strikers Jermain Defoe and Daniel Sturridge pulled out of the squad because of ankle and thigh injuries respectively, while midfielder Michael Carrick is also missing due to a hip injury. "We're disappointed to lose the three players who were originally selected, but luckily we've still got plenty left and everyone trained on Tuesday so we're all set for the game."

Here are the odds from Bet365 for the England vs Brazil friendly match:

England win - 23/10
Draw - 23/10
Brazil win - 11/8

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