Soccer-Cole left out of England World Cup squad, quits internationals


(Adds Hodgson quotes)

LONDON, May 11 (Reuters) - Experienced left back Ashley Cole has been left out of the England squad for next month's World Cup in Brazil and the Chelsea defender has announced his international retirement.

Cole, 33, who won 107 caps, was told by Roy Hodgson he will not be included in his provisional 23-man squad or among the standby players to be named on Monday, with the England manager saying it was one of the hardest decisions of his career.

"Got the call from Roy and agree England team should be about the young players," Cole tweeted on Sunday. "I think it best I retire from England team now.

"We have a great manager and team and I wish them only success. I will be supporting them like a true fan. Thanks to everyone for everything."

Hodgson told "There are few players who can be considered among the very best in the world, but Ashley in his prime was the best left back without question.

"Of course I must respect his decision to retire, he has been one of England's finest players, but I want to look to the future. It has been one of the hardest decisions of my career."

Southampton's 18-year-old left back Luke Shaw, who has one England cap, is to be named as cover for Everton's Leighton Baines in Hodgson's squad, British media reported.

Shaw made his England debut as a halftime substitute for Cole in the 1-0 friendly win over Denmark in March.


"Baines and Shaw are great players, proved this season, and are the future of this country, it was a pleasure to get 107 caps," added Cole.

"Like me or not, trust me it's hurt me to stop playing for my country, proud and honoured."

Cole, the fifth most-capped England player of all time, has been first-choice left back since making his debut against Albania in 2001. He has started every tournament match since his first appearance at the 2002 World Cup against Sweden.

But he has struggled to get into the Chelsea team this term under Jose Mourinho and was used once off the bench in a three-month period from late January before recent starts at Liverpool and in the Champions League semi-final against Atletico Madrid.

"Among many difficult decisions I've had to make for my squad not selecting Ashley was one of the hardest," said Hodgson.

"He's been an incredible competitor for England, to amass over a century of caps is a truly staggering achievement and he deserves enormous credit for the desire and brilliance which has shone through over the years he has represented his country." (Reporting by Ed Osmond, editing by Ken Ferris)

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