Should Ashley Cole be selected for the World Cup?

After his impressive display for Chelsea against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday, Sports Mole assesses whether Ashley Cole should feature for England at the World Cup.

After playing just 12 minutes of club football since January 26 and the rapid emergence of Luke Shaw, Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole's chances of appearing at this summer's World Cup appeared to be all but over.

However, after the 33-year-old impressed on his return to the starting lineup in the club's Champions League fixture with Atletico Madrid in midweek, the 107-cap veteran proved that he still has what it takes to perform on the world stage.

Below, Sports Mole considers whether Cole should be handed a place in Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad, or if it is time for the defender to move aside for Shaw.

Cole should be named in World Cup squad

Regardless of his lack of playing time for Chelsea since the turn of the year, Cole is still regarded as one of the best left-backs in the world and opposing teams would welcome his exclusion if he didn't travel to Brazil.

With his contract at Stamford Bridge expiring at the end of the season, his time at Stamford Bridge could be coming to an end, but there will be no shortage of takers if his services become available in the summer.

Real Madrid have already been suggested as a possible destination for the former Arsenal defender, while he could also attract interest from some of the top clubs in England.

Ashley Cole of England runs with the ball during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifying Group H match between England and Moldova at Wembley Stadium on September 6, 2013© Getty Images

The 33-year-old could also prove to be a valuable asset to the Three Lions should they be required to hold on to a result during their time in South America. If included, Hodgson would have the option of playing both Cole and Leighton Baines on the left to make a formidable pairing.

Cole has made the position his own for over a decade and if he is left out of the 23-man group, it would result in a sad conclusion to an illustrious international career when the player still has a role to play in the squad.

The Chelsea man's place was only in doubt because of his apparent lack of match fitness, but after he proved himself at the Vicente Calderon, it would be a big call from Hodgson not to involve one of his most trusted figures.

Cole should be left out of World Cup squad

While he received plenty of deserved praise for his showing in Madrid, Cole hasn't demonstrated that he could perform to the same level in a selection of matches over a short space of time.

In the extreme heat that England will experience in Brazil, anyone that is selected will be expected to recover within a couple of days before the following fixture, and due to his lack of minutes and age, that could prove difficult for Cole.

It's also increasingly likely that Cole will retire from international football during the summer, and with the tournament arguably acting as a stepping stone for future competitions, there could be little point in selecting a player who won't feature in England's future.

Luke Shaw of Southampton in action during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Southampton at The Hawthorns on August 17, 2013© Getty Images

His inclusion would also prevent Shaw - who many believe will become a regular in the England senior squad for the next decade - from gaining experience at a major tournament. The Southampton player wouldn't be first choice if he wins a place on the plane, but he could take in the atmosphere that comes with playing in a World Cup.

Hodgson may also have to consider whether Cole would be happy playing second fiddle to Baines if he is contemplating retirement from the world stage.

Verdict

At 18 years of age, Shaw has developed at such a significant rate that it's an achievement in itself that he is being considered to replace Cole at a World Cup.

However, while Hodgson will rightly include several up-and-coming talents for Brazil, he also needs to call upon experienced heads, and whether he is included from the start or not, Cole can have an impact in Brazil.

The Chelsea player has a reputation of being a big-game player, and if there is a chance that he can help England progress past the group stage, then he should be given the call over his ready-made replacement.

Andy Carroll of West Ham celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and West Ham United at the Stadium of Light on March 31, 2014
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