CHELSEA defender Ashley Cole is set to captain England for the first time in tonight’s friendly against the Republic of Ireland, despite manager Roy Hodgson insisting otherwise.
Cole has been handed the armband in recognition of becoming only the seventh England player to reach a century of caps, although this evening will represent his 102nd international appearance.
Hodgson yesterday appeared to suggest the 32-year-old would only lead England out and hand over the skipper’s duties to Blues team-mate Frank Lampard, who has deputised for regular captain Steven Gerrard.
But it emerged last night that left-back Cole will captain the team in all respects, apart from those involving the media that traditionally fall to the man with the armband.
“The fact is that he does not enjoy the responsibility of talking publicly and that is why maybe in the past when the England captaincy has come up 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,” said Hodgson.
“But on this occasion we all think this is the right thing to do, and he is happy to accept that. He was also satisfied with our compromise, that with the press conference, 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 on the pitch.”
Hodgson this week wrote to all ticket holders in a plea for good behaviour as Ireland face England for the first time since the fixture was abandoned due to rioting at Lansdowne Road in 1995.
It comes after the Football Association investigated claims that fans sang songs about burning Anton and Rio Ferdinand during the win over San Marino in March. The FA said it could not find evidence to support the claims.
“It’s very important,” he added. “It almost goes without saying that you want fans to respect the opposition, because tonight is such an important part of our [the FA’s] 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 to make sure that the game is played in the right spirit as I know it will be on the field.”
With Danny Welbeck struggling to prove his fitness Daniel Sturridge looks set to lead the line for England alongside Wayne Rooney.
Former Tottenham striker Robbie Keane is expected to play for Ireland.