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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 June 2006, 13:59 GMT 14:59 UK
Butcher tips Cole for lead role
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer in Baden-Baden

Joe Cole
Cole looks to have solved England problems on the left side
Terry Butcher believes England's time to recapture the World Cup has arrived - and is backing midfielder Joe Cole to emerge as their secret weapon.

The Ex-England captain told BBC Sport that Cole can come out from the shadows of his more high-profile team-mates.

"I am very optimistic about our chances," said Butcher. "It is our best chance for years.

"And I think Joe Cole can come through as the real big factor. Look at how many recent games he has shaped."

Butcher says the 24-year-old Chelsea star has solved England's left-sided problems.

He added: "People talk about Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen and David Beckham but Joe has worked away very hard on that left-hand side, scoring goals and making them.

"No-one talks about him and, interestingly, no-one talks about the so-called problem position on the left side anymore.

"This is because he has taken that position by the scruff of the neck and made it his."

Butcher added: "It was his cross against Argentina that brought about Michael Owen's winner.

I was with them in 2004 and there was certainly not the same level of confidence as we have now

Terry Butcher

"It was his run and jink against Hungary that set up the third goal for Peter Crouch.

"You can go through quite a few games where Joe has played a big part, a real key role, and I really think Germany can be his stage.

"I have watched him closely in training. He can go inside and outside players and scores goals."

Like the rest of the nation, Butcher is waiting expectantly on the results of the scan on Wayne Rooney's foot.

But he still has question marks over the Manchester United striker's match fitness.

He revealed: "I've got to say I still have doubts but at least all the uncertainty and speculation will be over.

"It will be black or white. Positive or negative.

"All the preparations have been done to get the break right but it is wise to listen to Gary Neville's words of caution.

"He told us he was jogging after the same injury, thought things were going well and was in for surgery four days later."

But little can dampen Butcher's enthusiasm as his hopes rise of England repeating their 1966 World Cup triumph.

He said: "I have a little feeling we are on to something special here.

"I may be getting carried away with the euphoria surrounding the camp but it is certainly infectious.

"I was with them in 2004 and there was certainly not the same level of confidence as we have now.

"It is certainly our best chance in my time as a player and pundit. I'm at my sixth World Cup and I'm excited about how we will go."

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