Why Ivanovic suspension is good news for Ashley Cole

Ashley Cole

Ashley Cole will profit from the Serb's yellow card in the 2-0 win over PSG, which rules him out of the Blues' Champions League semi-final first leg.

Chelsea's 2-0 win over PSG in the Champions League quarter-finals - securing a final-four spot on the away goals rule - was only marred by a booking to Branislav Ivanovic, which will rule the Serb out of the Blues' semi-final first leg.

Jose Mourinho's side will discover their opponents for the semis in Friday's draw and could be pitted against either of the Madrid sides or Bayern Munich, who overcame the Blues' Premier League rivals Manchester United.

But they will be without one of their most experienced defenders in what will have been a slight on an otherwise impressive night for Chelsea and their manager, who will be acutely aware of the qualities Ivanovic brings to this side.

In his absence, however, there could at last be a Chelsea reprieve for one man in particular. Ashley Cole has become something of a distant after thought as Mourinho continues to grind out wins and his miserable season on the touchlines may be about to experience an unexpected happy ending after all.

Since Cole's dismal performance in a 2-0 defeat to Newcastle United earlier this season, the former England international has been usurped in the pecking order at left-back by the conventionally right-sided Cesar Azplicueta, in one of Mourinho's tactical masterstrokes.

The Spaniard has been a revelation since being preferred in the position and was one of the star performers during the win over the Ligue 1 side on Tuesday night.

But with Ivanovic suspended and precious few alternatives other than the relatively untested Tomas Kalas, Mourinho will be forced to bring Cole back in from the dark and hand the 33-year-old the chance to prove there is still life in the old dog yet.

Cole will have watched on, as the old guard of Petr Cech, Ivanovic, John Terry and Frank Lampard helped steer Chelsea home, pondering just how times have changed at Stamford Bridge and how his stock has plummeted as a result; going from first choice to a mere understudy in this lavish squad.

This was a man once held in the highest regard around these parts and yet, now, his demotion has been largely accepted by the fanbase, with Azpilicueta excelling and Mourinho vindicated, akin to the situation with Juan Mata, in his steadfast determination to do things his way.

The former Arsenal defender will see a potential starting berth against one of Europe's big guns as the perfect chance to offer a riposte to his critics, while also helping ensure that, if this is to be his final season with the Blues, it will be remembered fondly with a performance that could help them on their way to silverware.

After all, this is a defender who thrives on the biggest of occasions and one who is in fierce competition with Everton's Leighton Baines and Southampton's precocious talent Luke Shaw to claim the England left-back spot. 

Cole can come in from the cold and make his presence felt in this Chelsea side and a stellar showing may yet see him seize first prize in Roy Hodgson's final reckoning, as well as proving to Mourinho he still has plenty of resources left in the tank.

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