Ashley Cole has had a tough season at Chelsea with Cesar Azpilicueta being preferred to him at left-back despite being predominantly right-footed. Leighton Baines and Luke Shaw however have gone from strength to strength at Everton and Southampton respectively.
The latter two have been receiving plaudits throughout the season, but there is no doubt whatsoever that Ashley Cole must be in Roy Hodgson's England squad. Cole has only played 16 Premier League games this season but that does not mean that he should miss out on his fourth World Cup.
After not playing for Chelsea for almost three months, Cole was recalled back to the side for recent games against Atletico Madrid, Liverpool and Norwich City. He slotted back into the side without any problems and you couldn't tell he had been out of the team for so long. There is no argument to say Cole hasn't played enough games this season to go to the World Cup.
Despite being overlooked by Jose Mourinho at times this season, let us not forget how much of an outstanding career Cole has had for club and country. 107 caps prove that he has been a great servant for his country and to hold the left-back position for 12 years is a great achievement in itself.
|Apps||Won||Clean Sheet||Won Tackle||Goal Assist||Interception Won||Accurate Pass||Mins|
The stats from this season show that in the games that Cole has played in he has contributed to a clean sheet in 50% of the games compared to Shaw's rate of a clean sheet in 38% of the games. Of course Cole has an all round better team to play with so that must be taken into consideration.
Shaw is seen as an attacking full-back who enjoys getting into the oppositions half, and has received plaudits for his confidence and pace which have troubled defences. However it has only led to one assist from 34 games. Whereas Ashley Cole who is more of a conservative defender has assisted two goals in less than half the amount of matches.
Their successful tackles and interceptions are at similar levels as are their accurate passes. There is little that Shaw has significantly done better than Cole this season apart from having a more consistent run of games, but that isn't enough to grant one a place in the England squad.
Shaw should not supersede Cole from the England side just yet, obviously in the future he will probably enjoy a great run in the national side.
The World Cup in Brazil this summer is going to be an intense occasion in more ways than one. The weather is going to make the competition favourable for the South American countries and we are unlikely to see too much pressing and running around the pitch. Therefore Shaw's main qualities of attacking and his pace are going to be limited in Brazil.
Cole has barely put a foot wrong in his football career and would be the sensible choice to take. Leighton Baines may have the starting role due to the large role he played in the qualifying campaign, although Cole should push him close. He is a reliable player and Hodgson will know that. If Baines does get the nod and he gets injured who would you rather throw on as his replacement in a World Cup game, Shaw or Cole? It would be unfair to expect too much from Shaw in a vital game. This competition only comes around once every four years and it shouldn't be used to 'give the kids some experience'.