French Ligue 1

Cole set for Lille bow

September 9, 2011
By ESPNsoccernet staff

Lille coach Rudi Garcia is considering handing England international Joe Cole his Ligue 1 debut against Saint-Etienne this weekend.

Lille's newly recruit Joe Cole poses with his new shirt
GettyImagesJoe Cole has struggled this season

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Cole joined the French champions on a season-long loan from Liverpool on transfer deadline day, along with Auxerre striker Ireneusz Jelen, and while the duo are yet to reach optimum condition, Garcia wants to give them the chance to prove they are ready for action.

"Joe did a full pre-season with Liverpool, which is pretty good but he is going to be lacking in match fitness," said Garcia. "Ireneusz's situation is a little more complicated. He has spent two months working with a physical trainer but he has not trained with a group.

"We need to make sure we don't cause them to get injured by throwing them in too soon."

However, Garcia said he could still play the pair at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on Saturday. "We will see how they are tomorrow. We will see how they are after their first full week training with us. They could both be involved, but they could also both be left out."

On where Cole would fit into Lille's 4-3-3 formation, Garcia said: "He is more of an attacking midfielder, but I think he can play through the middle or out wide. If we continue with our system of two more advanced midfielders then he can play one of those roles too.

"I have spoken to him about it and he has no problem. He has great technique. He is one of the most Latin players in the English game."

Meanwhile, Cole his hoping his new career in France can get his England career back on track. He has not played for his country since the 4-1 defeat by Germany at the 2010 World Cup.

Cole told The Sun: "I played 56 times for England and loved every minute of it. I've really enjoyed my international career and feel I played some great football for England. I'd love to be back involved."

Lille are looking for a third successive league win this weekend.