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Feb 5, 2013

Hodgson confirms Cole will start

Ashley Cole will make his 100th appearance for England against Brazil in the same manner he won his previous 99 caps; as a starting member of the Three Lions.

Manager Roy Hodgson announced that he would start the Chelsea left-back on Wednesday night at Wembley but hinted he might not play the whole match.

Cole will become the seventh player to make 100 England appearances, following in the footsteps of Peter Shilton (125), David Beckham (115), Bobby Moore (108), Bobby Charlton (106), Billy Wright (105) and Steven Gerrard (100).

And, asked if the defender would start, Hodgson told reporters: "Yes he will. He'll start the game, then I'll have to see what to do with Leighton (Baines), who has been doing very well. Ashley will definitely start.''

Hodgson did, however, rule out the possibility of Cole leading the side out at Wembley in place of captain Gerrard, who made his 100th appearance for England in last November's friendly with Sweden.

Hodgson said: "I don't see any reason why the captain should let anyone else lead the team out. Ashley does his talking and work on the field and I don't think he's ever pushed himself forward during his 100 appearances as a potential captain of the team.

"I think he's just very happy to be a key player in the team so I'm pretty certain he won't be trying to rip the armband off Steven tomorrow."

As Cole prepares to join national captain Gerrard among England's centurions, the Liverpool man agreed his team-mate should now be mentioned as an all-time great.

"I think he deserves to be in there,'' he told Sky Sports News. "I look at the players I played with throughout my career and I think he's been one of the most consistent.''

Cole insists he has long given up caring about the reception he receives from England fans at Wembley, instead focusing on the significant milestone and the backing he has received from Hodgson and Gerrard.

"Maybe I don't get the recognition and praise, but I don't want to sit here and keep going on about wanting to be loved," Cole said. "I am here to play football. That is all I want to do.

"You need character to overcome low points, but you can't always have it your own way in football. You can't always have the good times. You are going to have bad spells when you are not playing well and is something I have learned to deal with it. I have been lucky to win trophies (at club level) and, of course, I want to do it in an England shirt.

"I am proud to play for England. I feel proud, privileged and overwhelmed. From being a little boy from the East End, you never think you would get a chance to represent your country. When I was a young kid, I never expected to play for Arsenal or England. To play for my country for the 100th time is amazing."

Despite the fanfare of a game organised to mark the FA's 150th anniversary, tomorrow serves mainly as a warm-up to two important World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro.

Gerrard added: "Its exciting times and I think the FA have produced some fantastic fixtures. We start against Brazil and I know it's a friendly but we want to go into the qualifiers in good shape.''

The Liverpool midfielder also backed his Arsenal contemporary Jack Wilshere to establish himself for England after missing almost a year of football due to injury.

He added: "I think if he stays fit he's got the talent and the ability to be a top player for Arsenal and for England. He's had a disappointing time with injuries and I've been there myself. I hope he can get a good run in the team.''

Meanwhile, Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has named his starting XI for the match, unleashing the attacking quartet of Oscar, Ronaldinho, Neymar and Luis Fabiano.

Brazil starting XI: Julio Cesar, Daniel Alves, David Luiz, Dante, Adriano, Ramires, Paulinho, Ronaldinho, Oscar, Neymar, Luis Fabiano

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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