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Anxious wait for England hopefuls

GRAZ, May 31 – Joe Cole may well have done enough to earn himself a place in England's World Cup squad following an influential display as a substitute in his team's 2-1 friendly victory over Japan on Sunday.But the midfielder is still on tenterhooks, along with so many of his team-mates, as manager Fabio Capello maintains radio silence on his final selection.

It is fair to say Chelsea midfielder Cole, after a season dogged by injury, was a candidate on the list of players who could be left behind when Capello reduces his squad from 30 to 23 on Tuesday.

However his display ‘in the hole’ behind Wayne Rooney in the second half against Japan, in which he helped England come from 1-0 down to win 2-1, has now catapulted him to the ranks of ‘probables’ to travel to South Africa.

With rivals such as Tom Huddlestone and Darren Bent failing to take their chances in similar fashion and others such as Stephen Warnock, Matthew Upson, Michael Dawson, Adam Johnson and Scott Parker not even getting on the pitch it looks good for Cole, who began to recover his form at the end of the season at Stamford Bridge, helping Chelsea win the Premier League and FA Cup ‘Double’.

But the winger, one of few England players to perform well at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, refuses to believe he is on the plane to South Africa just yet.

"I don’t want to go into that," he said.

"You’ve got to be pragmatic about it. I came here 10 days ago to try and enjoy my time back with England and train well, and now it’s in the manager’s hands.

"There are a lot of players who will be hoping; a lot of players have got a good case. Whatever happens, we are all right behind England and hopefully this will be our time.

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"The main thing for me is I feel fresh at this stage of the season and I want to go and have a good as tournament as I had last time and hopefully even better and try and help us win it."

Cole admits it will be a nervous time on Tuesday morning when Capello has promised to personally phone the seven players who will not travel to the World Cup with him.

"I don’t know what I’ll do," said the midfielder.

"I’ve never been in this position. I don’t know. It is a funny atmosphere.

"There is nothing you can do.

"As players we’ve done everything we can do, we’ve trained hard, everyone has had an excellent week’s training and that’s all you can do. I’ll wake up, have my breakfast and there we go.

"You’ve got to put football into perspective otherwise it will drive you mad because there is so much importance put on it but at the end of the day it is only a game of football.

"Constantly you have to do that as a footballer because there is so much pressure and importance put on whether you win a game.

"What will be will be but the main thing is it will be great for the country and the people to have a great World Cup and go and win it."

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Cole’s Chelsea teammate Frank Lampard has insisted he will continue to volunteer for penalty duty, even at the World Cup where England have suffered so badly in shoot-outs in 2006 and 1990, despite missing his last two.

Lampard, who shot wide in the FA Cup Final and then saw his penalty against Japan saved, said: "I always want to take penalties. It wasn’t a great one today, to be honest, which is disappointing because I practised loads this week.

"Perhaps it’s better to miss them now. I was under the spotlight because I missed the last one I took. But I’m always confident in taking them, and that will make me work harder and if the manager wants me to take one I will step up."

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