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Cole set for comeback

LONDON, April 8- England were handed a significant World Cup boost on Thursday when Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti revealed that Ashley Cole is on track to return to action in his club's league match with Stoke on April 25.

That would give Cole plenty of time to prove he has fully recovered from a broken ankle before Fabio Capello confirmed his England squad for the finals in early May.

Cole, 29, suffered the fracture in February and there had been fears England would be forced to do without one of their most valuable assets.

"Ashley is an important player for England and after the season they still have a month to get ready, so he will be ready for sure, but I have not spoken to Capello," Ancelotti told reporters at Chelsea’s training ground.

Cole’s return will give him three league games and the FA Cup final, should the Blues beat Aston Villa in this weekend’s semi-final, to prove he is worth a place in Capello’s squad.

England’s Italian coach warned earlier this week that he would not pick a "half-fit" Cole.

Ancelotti meanwhile admitted that Arsenal and Manchester United’s exit from the Champions League would fuel their desire to close the gap on Chelsea in the three-way Premier League title race.

"It is not good news they are out of the Champions League because now both teams will be focused on the Premier League and we have to pay attention because they are close to us," Ancelotti said.

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"They have the experience to stay focused on the Premier League because they have experience and quality. I would have preferred for Manchester United to have beaten Bayern Munich and stayed in the Champions League because it would be easier for us.

"United had a bad week, they lost the quarter-final and they lost against us. Now, they have the possibility to come back and play well and win."

Chelsea will go into the FA Cup semi-final in confident mood having beaten Villa 7-1 at Stamford Bridge less than two weeks ago, although Ancelotti is expecting a backlash from that encounter.

"We will not think about that match," he said. "Aston Villa will play a different game, they will have a good direction, so we will play attention.

"It is a semi-final of an important championship and they will be doing their best to win. Saturday will be different.

"They have players with experience and strength and I have a good opinion about this team.

"I think to remind them about bad things is not good, it’s better to remind them about good things. Martin O’Neill is a good psychologist and a very good coach."

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