Carlton Cole hopes to further his England ambitions by showing Fabio Capello he is capable of forging the perfect strike partnership with Jermain Defoe. The West Ham United marksman was a revelation when he appeared as a second-half substitute against the Netherlands ten days ago, helping England overcome a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2.
Working well in tandem with fellow substitute Defoe, Cole drew rich praise from Capello and earned comparison with Emile Heskey. It was only his third cap, but Cole has made rapid progress under manager Gianfranco Zola and hopes to follow in Defoe's footsteps.
"I've been in the last four squads and I'm grateful that Mr. Capello sees so much potential in me to be in the England team," he said. "West Ham strikers have a good history in [FIFA] World Cup™ Finals and that would be nice, but I'm staying realistic.
"I need to do the business for West Ham and then hopefully I'll be in South Africa. Jermain and I work really well together because I'm the big man and he's the small striker.
"He wants to get into the box and avoid the physical stuff up front," Cole said. "He wants to get in the box while I like to get stuck in, so we do complement each other really well.
"He's got a bright future with the England team and I hope I can follow in his footsteps."
Cole will have to put any England allegiances on hold when West Ham host Tottenham Hotspur in tomorrow's London derby at the Boleyn Ground, where he will go head to head with the in-form Defoe.
"Jermain is a brilliant player and everyone knows that he has scored goals wherever he's been," Cole said. "He has scored more than 15-a-year when he's not injured and is a top class striker.
"I know the threat he is going to pose and I think our defenders will know what he'll be up to. We have to contain him so that he doesn't wriggle free to get goals," he said. "Spurs have lots of other quality players who can score, but he is on fire."
All is well at Upton Park
Cole, who failed to fulfil his potential during spells at Chelsea, Charlton, Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers, is thrilled by his rapid progress and enjoys being West Ham's main striker.
"I could never have imagined I would be in this position, but the type of football that we play here is perfect for me," he said. "I believe I can get a lot better and if you look how much I've moved on in the last 18 months, it's been great.
"I'm the senior striker here and I just need to keep putting in good performances and helping the club get results.
"I can still improve my finishing and that's a lot to do with confidence," Cole said. "Once I get my first goal this season, then I'll feel a lot better."