Ashley Cole cleared for England selection after apology to FA boss
Chelsea defender Ashley Cole has apologised to English Football Association chairman David Bernstein for a Twitter insult that he aimed at the FA last week and is now free to play for England against San Marino on Friday.
Whether or not he earns his 99th cap in the World Cup qualifier at Wembley is up to Roy Hodgson, but Bernstein said yesterday Cole was free for selection by the England coach.
The FA charged the 31-year-old with misconduct on Monday over his offensive tweet, which came after the governing body's independent commission queried what they described as his "evolving" evidence in John Terry's racial-abuse case.
Terry was found guilty of racially insulting Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand and banned for four matches. Cole gave evidence on his Chelsea teammate's behalf.
Cole deleted the offensive tweet a few hours after he posted it last Friday.
Bernstein, speaking ahead of the official opening of the country's new national coaching centre at St George's Park in Burton, central England, revealed that Cole had followed his apology to the FA last Friday with a personal apology to the chairman.
"He apologised immediately on Friday, and he came to see me last night and apologised to me personally," Bernstein said. "He showed real contrition. He said he was really sorry.
"He is free to play for England over the coming matches," the FA boss said. "It is up to the manager to decide whether he plays."
Cole has until tomorrow to respond to the FA charge, with the deadline falling just over 24 hours before the England match. He is also facing disciplinary action from his club over the tweet.
Despite his apology, Hodgson may yet decide to rest Cole for the San Marino game to keep him fresh for the tougher World Cup qualifier against Poland in Warsaw next week.