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English Premiership

Cole no longer left back top dog

ASHLEY-COLECOBHAM, London, December 13 – Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole will make an immediate return to the substitutes’ bench against Crystal Palace this weekend, manager Jose Mourinho revealed on Friday.

The England left-back, 33 next week, played against Steaua Bucharest in the Champions League on Wednesday, but he has fallen behind Cesar Azpilicueta in the Stamford Bridge pecking order.

He will receive a reminder of his changing status at the club where he has been a first-choice player since arriving from Arsenal in 2006 when he again makes way for Azpilicueta for the visit of Palace on Saturday.

Cole’s appearance against Steaua was his first since November 2 and while Mourinho says he will return for the League Cup quarter-final with Sunderland next week, he will once again be overlooked in the Premier League.

“I will change again,” Mourinho said. “I need the team to change and need fresh people. I need Cesar Azpilicueta to play tomorrow (Saturday) and Ashley Cole to be fresh for Sunderland.

“I have to make changes in those positions.”

Mourinho — who earlier this week said that Cole will be offered a new contract when his current deal expires at the end of the season — said that the former Arsenal man can no longer be considered the first-choice left-back at the club.

“Azpi didn’t play the last game. Azpi was in, then out, now in again. Cole will play at Sunderland,” he said.

“I’m not saying it’s a compromise or a law that I will do that, but I trust both. I don’t think he’s happy. I’ve not asked, but I don’t think he is! He’s not a number two. I have two number ones.

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“I trust both and choose the one I think is better for the occasion. It’s good to have options.”

Mourinho again expressed concern at the lack of goals from strikers Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba ahead of the visit of Tony Pulis’s Palace.

He also admitted that his forward players do not possess the individual talent of Liverpool’s Luis Suarez or Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero — the Premier League’s in-form strikers.

“Some strikers, they are players with fantastic individual qualities and can, by themselves, do what their team is not able to do,” he said.

“The world has lots of examples — teams not playing especially well, not better than other teams, but who have individual players who by themselves can be the solution to the team’s problems.

“Our strikers do not have this kind of quality or potential. They offer more in team organisation and dynamic and do other jobs.

“That’s why I’m not criticising them, because they do other jobs. The number of goals is quite frustrating, for them as much as me, but the contribution is good.

“The other guys (Aguero, Suarez) play to their strengths — super individual qualities, dribble, shots, sharp movement. They resolve problems.

“We don’t have this kind of striker and need them to do a different type of work. Do I expect more? Yes. Do we need more? Yes. But you can’t expect Demba or Fernando to get the ball like Sergio Aguero or Luis Suarez, dribble past three and score.”

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Mourinho also said that he does not envisage moving for a new player in the January transfer window.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “But if something happens it will be only one player, because occasionally if someone emerges it can push us in that direction.

“But we’re not smelling the market and waiting desperately for January 1 to do something. We will try the best for this team and wait for the right moment to improve them.”

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