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By ESPN Staff
Jan 30, 2008

Grant backing for troubled full-back Cole

Avram Grant insists troubled Ashley Cole will be mentally fit enough to face Reading if the Chelsea coach opts to recall the England left-back.

The former Arsenal defender missed the return leg of the Carling Cup semi-final at Everton and their FA Cup fourth-round victory over Wigan at the weekend.

Cole has been dogged by allegations about his private life but Grant explained his absence was down to nothing more sinister than his own rotational policy.

However, Grant would not be drawn on whether Cole would figure in their Premier League clash with the Royals at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

'There is no problem with his mind,' said Grant.

'He's a full professional, he's ready. But I'm trying to rotate the players to keep them fresh because we have a lot of games. In his position (at left-back) we can do it. But he's okay.

'I choose players with a good head on their shoulders. But most of the players here are professionals.

'Sometimes they have ups and downs but if they are professional it doesn't disturb them.

'Players need to be professional. It's a state of mind, not just if you drink or don't drink. This is obvious. It's many things. How you look about the game, how you look forward, if you pass too much... it's many things. It's very important what you have in your head.

'In football you need to choose players with character. I say to them I test you how you behave in the very good days, if you still want to learn and progress or if you think you know everything, and also in the bad days - if you take responsibility or if you think everyone else is to blame. I want players to behave whether they win or lose games.'

Wayne Bridge has been deputising for Cole and the two are also fighting it out for the left-back spot in the England squad.

New England coach Fabio Capello names his first squad at the end of the week and Grant says both players should be included.

'I think Capello needs to take Bridge and Ashley Cole,' said Grant.

This is my opinion. They are the two best left-backs in the country.

'Capello has been in touch with me. I am also positive. We spoke about football. It was positive. Very positive.

'The England players that belong to Chelsea deserve to be there. They have done it under big pressure the last few weeks.

'They deserve to be in the squad. I think England have good players and you will see a good national team.'