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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 June, 2003, 22:13 GMT 23:13 UK
Cole sets his sights
Joe Cole celebrates scoring for England
Cole scored his first England goal

Joe Cole staked his claim for a regular first-team place after scoring England's winner against Serbia & Montenegro.

Cole opened his account for England with a stunning free-kick after being introduced as a substitute.

The game seemed to be heading for a draw after Nenad Jestrovic had equalised following Steven Gerrard's opener.

But Cole snatched a late victory for England ahead of next Wednesday's crucial Euro 2004 qualifier against Slovakia.

"It has not really sunk in yet," said Cole.

"It is just a great feeling and hopefully I will get the chance to do it again next week.

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"I want the chance to prove myself at this level and I want to play in the important games and I cannot have done myself any harm.

"No disrespect to the England Under-21s but I don't ever want to be back there now."

Cole admitted that coach Sven-Goran Eriksson had given his some advice prior to his introduction.

"The coach told me not to try too hard but I felt I did myself justice and hopefully I will get a chance to prove myself from the off," added the West Ham midfielder.

Eriksson, who used 10 substitutes, was pleased with the performances of his young players.

"I was happy for Joe Cole," said Eriksson. "It is nice to see the youngsters coming on, they can really play football.

"You can see that the future for England should be very good.

"It was very good football, there were very good individual performances from our players. It looks good for next week.

Our fans were very good, I appreciate that
England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson

"Our fans were very good, I appreciate that."

And the England coach admitted the reason he made so many changes was to protect his key players.

"One of the reasons I took out Gareth Southgate, Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes and Michael Owen was I did not want them injured for next week."

"We cannot afford any more injuries."

Phil Neville was named as the Nationwide Man of the Match after playing in the holding role and is hopeful of retaining his place for the match against Slovakia.

"I enjoyed playing the holding role a lot and I have played there a lot for Manchester United," said Neville. "Hopefully my performance will keep me in the team."






ENGLAND'S SUMMER MATCHES

ENGLAND 2-1 SLOVAKIA

ENGLAND 2-1 SERBIA & M

SOUTH AFRICA 1-2 ENGLAND


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