Ashley Cole has been handed an opportunity to pass the 100-cap mark for England and to redeem his reputation over the next 10 days after being assured a controversial outburst on Twitter will not cost him his international future.
Chelsea left-back Cole currently has 98 caps and England's World Cup qualifiers against San Marino at Wembley on Friday and Poland away the following Tuesday provide both the player and England with the possibility of a much-needed 'good news' story.
Cole certainly needs one after posting an ill-advised and foul-mouthed tweet criticising the Football Association for questioning the integrity of his evidence in the disciplinary hearing that ended with Chelsea team-mate John Terry found guilty of racially abusing QPR's Anton Ferdinand.
He has since apologised for his comments and had already been included in the England squad. But this latest controversy, which will see him punished by both club and country, raised doubts over whether coach Roy Hodgson would pick him in the qualifiers.
However, it is believed Hodgson has told Cole he remains in his plans and so a potential century of caps should be something to celebrate no matter what his off-field reputation.
"What is more worthy of consideration is the fact that Ashley, at a relatively young age and with more football left in him, is likely to get his 100th cap very soon - and that is fantastic," Hodgson said.
"I don't think we should ever underestimate the value of that. When I was younger, 100 caps was a rare occurrence. My close friend Giacinto Facchetti played 16 years for Italy and only managed 92.
"When I was in Sweden, Bjorn Nordqvist had 96 and we thought at the time that was quite incredible.
"Now, players do get over 100 especially in the Asian countries and you see goalkeepers getting into the 120s. But for an outfield player, a left-back, to reach 100 is incredible.
"He has done it with consistency and there is no reason why he cannot set his sights higher."
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