Cole hailed by Hodgson as he faces tweet sanctions
European Football Headlines
(AP Photo/POLFOTO, Jens Dresling) DENMARK OUT)
By ROB HARRIS
AP Sports Writer
LONDON (AP) Ashley Cole's vulgar criticism of the Football Association has left him facing disciplinary action, and cast a cloud over his expected 100th England appearance this month.
England coach Roy Hodgson, though, sees the defender as "excellent professional" who remains integral to the team as he prepares to join an elite group of English centurions.
Goalkeeper Peter Shilton made a record 125 appearances, while David Beckham, Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton and Billy Wright are also members of the 100-cap club.
"We don't have that Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in England like they do in America but in those terms these people are our Hall of Famers and Ashley will join that group," Hodgson said.
But Cole's controversial tweet on Friday will have ended any prospect of him being made captain for his landmark match, which could come in the World Cup qualifier in Poland on Oct. 16 if he features first against San Marino on Friday at Wembley Stadium.
In a judgment published Friday, an FA disciplinary commission questioned the "evolving" nature of Cole's statements in defense of Chelsea teammate John Terry against a racism charge. The panel was convinced Terry hurled abuse at Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand in part due to Cole's questionable testimony.
"Hahahahaa, well done (hash)fa I lied did I," Cole said along with another vulgar expression on Twitter, prompting his club to immediately launch its own disciplinary action, which is likely to result in a fine.
The FA is now set to follow with its own action, but Hodgson still recognizes Cole's importance to the England team.
"I have found him to be an excellent professional and a very, very enthusiastic and important member of the group," Hodgson said in a briefing for Sunday newspapers before Cole posted his tweet. "And I'm looking forward to working with him for a period of time to come."
Cole made his England debut in 2001 against Albania and is consistently one of the team's top performers.
"For an outfield player, a left-back, to reach 100 is incredible," Hodgson said. "He has done it with consistency and there is no reason why he cannot set his sights higher.
"I must say it is an achievement we shouldn't be underestimating and if people are going to praise his achievement it is something I would endorse."
Cole's footballing achievements, though, are too often marred by off-field misdemeanors.
From his short-lived marriage to pop star Cheryl Cole amid front-page allegations of infidelity to accidently shooting an intern at Chelsea with an air rifle, Cole has rarely been out of the headlines.
And he's never been able to shake off his perceived greed when rejecting Arsenal's contract offer before defecting to Chelsea in 2006.
"Every player has the right to be true to their own feelings, and his is that he will do his talking on the field ... he wants to be judged as a pure footballer," Hodgson said.
Rob Harris can be reached at http://twitter.com/RobHarris
Updated October 7, 2012