LONDON (AFP) – Jose Mourinho has urged England manager Roy Hodgson to stick with Chelsea veterans Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard for the World Cup in Brazil.
After naming his 30-man squad for next week’s friendly against Denmark at Wembley on Thursday, Hodgson warned his old guard, including ageing stars Cole and Lampard, that he is ready to make tough decisions when he announces his final party for Brazil on May 13.
Left-back Cole, 33, is in danger of becoming second-choice behind Leighton Baines and also under increasing pressure to even make the squad following Hodgson’s decision to include the uncapped Luke Shaw, who has shone for Southampton this season.
Lampard, 35, faces a battle for an England midfield berth, with Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere and Steven Gerrard the likely starters and Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson catching the eye with his performances in the Premier League this season.
But Chelsea manager Mourinho believes Cole and Lampard, both key figures in England’s World Cup qualification campaign, deserve the one last opportunity to represent their country on the highest stage.
“It’s not my decision. But I try to be pragmatic, so if one day I am the national team manager of any country, I think the players that take me to the Euros or to the World Cup are the players I’m going to take to the Euros or the World Cup,” Mourinho said.
“They took me, by qualifying. After that, I take them on my plane. I don’t think it makes a lot of sense if you trust some players to do qualification and, after that, you don’t select them and pick others.”
The evidence supports Mourinho’s argument with Lampard figuring in seven of England’s 10 qualifiers and ended up the second top goal scorer behind Wayne Rooney with four goals.
Only captain Gerrard and Everton pair Phil Jagielka and Baines played more minutes than Lampard.
The experienced Cole also contributed on the road to Rio with four appearances with, crucially, three of those matches being the toughest away fixtures – in Poland, Montenegro and Ukraine.
Cole’s problem has been his lack of game-time at club level with Mourinho not selecting the 106-cap star since the FA Cup tie against Stoke on January 26.
“That’s a problem of the club coach. In that case, it’s my problem,” Mourinho added.
Lampard and Cole will wait to see if they are involved when Premier League leaders Chelsea travel the short distance to west London neighbours Fulham on Saturday.
Oscar is set to return following a muscular injury in place of Andre Schurrle, while Fernando Torres is expected to be rested with Samuel Eto’o restored to the starting line-up.
Centre-back David Luiz, who missed the Champions League draw with Galatasaray in midweek, is unlikely to be involved once again.