Joe Cole is putting his World Cup dream to one side in order to concentrate on making Chelsea champions again.

Cole has endured a difficult time since returning from cruciate surgery in September and was left out of Fabio Capello's squad for the recent friendly win over Egypt at Wembley.

At the time, Capello claimed Cole was "not the same player" as he had been before the injury and doubts were raised about the 28-year-old's chances of going to South Africa.

Yet the last couple of weeks may have changed Capello's mind. Cole bagged the opener in the 2-1 win at Manchester United that has seen Chelsea take a potentially decisive stranglehold on the title.

The main thing now is that the team keeps winning. It is all we can do. I want to keep my place but above all else Chelsea need to win.

Cole on his devotion to returning Chelsea to the top in England

But Cole intends to resist letting his mind drift towards summer exploits. Instead, he wants to ensure Chelsea retain top spot and make up for their Champions League misery by winning the title.

"You cannot talk your way into the England squad," he told the BBC. "If I am playing regularly in a team fighting to be champions I will have every chance. But my main focus now is Chelsea. It is very important this club gets back to the summit of English football. I want to be part of the team that becomes champions again."

Waiting for the chance
Cole admits he has found it hard to hold down a regular place in Carlo Ancelotti's side. The fierce competition for places at Stamford Bridge meant easing himself back to form was not an option and as the season dragged on, it seemed Ancelotti was determined to keep both Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba in his starting line-up.

A minor injury that kept Drogba out of the Villa game gave Cole his chance and it would be a brave man who altered the formation again given how close Chelsea are to reclaiming a crown they last won under Jose Mourinho in 2006.

"It is not down to me to pick the team," said Cole. "But I enjoy playing on that right side. We changed the system in January and things went really well. We also changed the system in the last three games and the same thing has happened. I never lost belief in myself and there is no doubting what I can do. I just needed a run of games."

Cole's recent performances might also break the impasse over a new contract, given the midfielder confirmed recently that talks were getting nowhere. United have been mentioned as a potential suitor, although Cole was offering no favours yesterday as Chelsea made their first-half dominance count.

With three winnable home games in a five-match run-in that also includes trickier trips to Tottenham and Liverpool, Chelsea are in control of their own destiny again. And this time, there are no obvious signs that they are going to relax their grip. "The main thing now is that the team keeps winning," he said. "It is all we can do. I want to keep my place but above all else Chelsea need to win."