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Cole told he may get reprieve

ESPN staff
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Roy Hodgson admits Ashley Cole could be offered an England reprieve if Leighton Baines gets injured before the World Cup.

Cole was left out of Hodgson's 23-man squad for Brazil in favour of Luke Shaw, who is on the verge of a £25 million move to Manchester United. Liverpool's Jon Flanagan has been put on standby.

But the England manager says that may not be the end of the matter. "I've heard this 'what if Baines got injured, wouldn't Cole be the right answer?'" Hodgson said. "The answer to that is yes, he would be, without a doubt. But Ashley Cole isn't really a cover player. Ashley is a number one man."

Asked if he believed Cole would come out of retirement in case of an England emergency, Hodgson said: "You would have to ask Ashley that. I would like to think so, but it would have to be after June 2 because if it happened before he's not in the 30.

"You have to look at the rules. The problem is if Baines was injured against Peru, which is May 30, if you want to make a change then you have to do it within the 30 [players]. Strangely enough, if you get an injury after June 2, then you can actually make a change. So that's quite strange.

"When I decided Baines might be number one, then I decided the next one wouldn't be Ashley and would be Shaw. Circumstances could make the decision a very good one or it a very bad one.

"An injury to Baines would make the selection of Shaw a very bad selection. If we go through the World Cup with Baines playing the majority of games and Shaw coming on and doing very well it makes it a very good one."

Chelsea defender Cole revealed his omission on Sunday and subsequent retirement from international football but England have three pre-tournament friendlies - against Peru (May 30, Ecuador (June 4) and Honduras (June7) - during which injury can strike.

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