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Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Cole to captain England

ESPN staff

Roy Hodgson has announced that Ashley Cole will skipper England against Ireland to mark his 100th cap - but will not perform any other captain's duties other than to lead the team out and wear the armband.

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A player making a century of appearances is usually given the captain's armband, but Cole does not wish to fulfill other duties of the role, such as speak to the press. Instead, Chelsea team-mate Frank Lampard will attend media conferences, in his official role as vice-captain, as Steven Gerrard is out of the squad with a shoulder injury.

Cole actually made his 100th appearance against Brazil in February, but the achievement will be marked against Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland.

Hodgson told a press conference on Tuesday: "Frank's always been the captain in Steve's absence. I appointed him when I started over a year ago.

"But in actual fact tomorrow, Frank and I have discussed this and Frank's happy for Ashley to lead the team onto the field in celebration of his 100th cap, which he'll receive tomorrow.

"It's actually his 102nd appearance. Not only getting 100 caps, but the way he has performed over those 100 caps as the most consistent left-back probably in world football over such a long period of time, it's the perfect gesture and very much deserved.

"The fact is that he, as you well know, does not enjoy the responsibility of talking publicly and that is why maybe in the past when the England captaincy has come up in the past I am sure his name will have been considered but he shied away from that and he will have been happy to play under others.

"But on this occasion we all think this is the right thing to do, and he is happy to accept that - he was also maybe satisfied with our compromise, that with the press conference today, Frank Lampard would be the one coming in and speaking for the team here, whereas he [Cole] will be doing his talking with his feet tomorrow evening on the pitch.''

Hodgson this week helped prepare a letter that was sent to all fans holding a ticket, urging supporters to refrain from indulging in provocative behaviour or chanting at Wembley.

"It's very important,'' he added. "It almost goes without saying that you want fans to respect the opposition and I'm hoping that (happens), because tomorrow night is such an important part of our Jubilee year and I hope our fans are going to come there and cheer us to a victory.

"I was very happy to send out the letter to try and make sure that the game is played in the right spirit as I know it will be on the field. I hope the fans, and the Irish fans, show the level of respect that we would expect for a game of this type.

"I'm looking forward to it very much. Not only have the Republic of Ireland got a fantastic record, but they've reached major tournaments and have shown they're a difficult team for any opponent.

"I think it's very fitting that we now play one of the other home nations and in Ireland we know we're going into the kind of quality game that will help us prepare for our important games in October.''

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge, who scored his first England goal against San Marino in March, is in line to win his sixth cap. Hodgson said: "He's in the squad very much on merit. The times he's been with us before he's done very well and I've been unlucky with him once or twice that when he's been called up he's been injured with his club side.

"I know that he's one we've got high hopes for and I'm hoping he will have the same kind of path Danny Welbeck had since he joined the senior squad.

"Unfortunately Danny is still suffering from that knee injury that he had when he came and joined up with us on Sunday night. He's receiving constant treatment and we're hoping he'll recover from it but it seems unlikely that will be for the game tomorrow evening.

"We hope that by the time we play Brazil on Sunday he'll be fit. We're vulnerable to injuries tomorrow because we won't have time to call up anybody else. At this time of the year many players have gone away on holiday.

"It's a tightly-knit group of players that I want to see play but I'm a bit concerned about the injury situation.''

Hodgson has only called up Manchester City's Jack Rodwell as a replacement for a series of pull-outs, leaving him with a squad of 20 players - three of which are goalkeepers.

And with Danny Welbeck unlikely to feature at Wembley because of a knee complaint, Hodgson knows his options will be severely restricted by the time England take on Brazil on Sunday should he have to deal with more fitness problems.

"I hope [a 20-man squad] is going to be enough,'' the England manager said. "We are vulnerable tomorrow if we get injuries because we won't have much chance to call up anyone to replace players when many people have gone on holiday.

"We deliberately took a tighter squad because we want to give people plenty of playing time in these two games. If you call up 24 or 25 players and you have a long journey to Brazil, you are taking players who are with you for that week but they hardly play a minute of football.

"Then you maybe feel you have done them a disservice. I was quite anxious to ensure that I had a tight group so we can spread the minutes over a smaller group of players.''

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