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Last Updated: Friday, 28 April 2006, 21:14 GMT 22:14 UK
England's Cole returns to action
Ashley Cole
Cole is set to return after recovering from a series of injury setbacks
Arsenal defender Ashley Cole is set to put his injury nightmare behind him with a return to the squad for Monday's Premiership trip to Sunderland.

Cole, 25, played 90 minutes for the reserves on Thursday evening, having fully recovered from an ankle problem sustained in February.

The full-back has been hampered by injuries since October, with a broken bone in his foot and a thigh problem.

He said: "I'm fit but it's all about whether I can get back into the team."

Cole's return will boost his chances of making England's World Cup squad.

The competition in Germany gets under way on 9 June and Cole will be hoping to get back to be fully match fit to ensure his selection by England manager Sven Goran Eriksson.

The left-back broke a bone in his foot in October and suffered a three-month spell on the sidelines before sustaining a thigh injury in January and an ankle problem the following month.

Cole said: "I've been out for seven months and missed most of the season so of course it was very frustrating.

"But I've played my second 90 minutes for the reserves and hopefully it will be enough to get me into the squad."

Sven's been very good. He's come to my reserve games, phoned up my physio and finding out about how I'm doing.
Ashley Cole

Cole knows he has slipped down the Arsenal pecking order because of his injury problems.

In his absence the Gunners have reached the Champions League final for their first time in their history.

And Cole admits he would dearly love to play some part in the final against Barcelona on May 17.

He added: "Mathieu Flamini has done really, really well and Gael Clichy has come back strongly but all I can do is prove to the manager that I can play now.

"It's a great achievement getting to the final but we won't worry about Barcelona's team, we've got our own great players including Thierry Henry.

"It will be tough, but we'll go into the final thinking we've got a great chance."

Cole revealed that his confidence has been boosted by the fact England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson has been tracking his progress through his enforced lay-off.

"Sven's been very good. He's come to reserve games, phoned up my physio and been finding out about how I'm progressing.

"Hopefully, if I can play for Arsenal before the end of the season, he will be able to see me more."


WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Arsenal's Ashley Cole



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Wenger banishes fears over Cole
07 Mar 06 |  Arsenal
Wenger will not rush Cole return
23 Feb 06 |  Arsenal


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