Roy Hodgson has left the door open for Ashley Cole to come out of international retirement if Leighton Baines suffers a serious injury in the build-up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.
After 13 years' service, Cole retired from international duty on Sunday after Hodgson informed the Chelsea left-back he had not made his 23-man squad, which was officially announced on Monday. Hodgson has opted for Baines and 18-year-old Luke Shaw in his squad instead of Cole.
Should Baines get an injury, Hodgson would be left with Shaw as his only option at left-back. Shaw may be one of the most exciting players in the Premier League, but he only has 45 minutes of international experience in his locker.
When asked whether he would consider calling Cole up if Baines suffered an injury, the England manager said: "You would have to ask Ashley that....I would like to think so."
Hodgson has not named Cole in his squad or standby list, but FIFA rules state the England boss could draft the 33-year-old in if Baines gets injured after 2 June. Hodgson insisted he could not place Cole on his seven-man standby list out of respect for the Chelsea defender, who has 107 caps.
If Cole does not make a return after possibly the briefest spell in retirement, Hodgson's only other option would be to draft standby player Jon Flanagan - a natural right-back - into the 23.
Hodgson admits the decision to axe Cole could come back to haunt him. "Circumstances could make the decision a very good one or it could make it a very bad one," Hodgson said.
"If Baines suffered an injury (in the friendly) against Peru (on 30 May), it would make the selection of Shaw a very bad selection. If we go through the World Cup with Baines playing the majority of games and Shaw coming on and doing very well it makes it a very good one."
There was disappointment for Michael Carrick, Andy Carroll and Tom Cleverley, who were named on the standby list, rather than in the 23. Hodgson instead opted for a youthful and bold 23 by selecting Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley, Adam Lallana, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson and Shaw.
England are 40-1 with some bookmakers to lift the World Cup trophy on 14 July, but Hodgson sees no reason for pessimism. "I believe the squad can win the World Cup," he said. "Otherwise what's the point?!"
Wayne Rooney is keen to make sure he does not flop for the third World Cup in a row. The Manchester United striker, who failed to score in the 2010 and 2006 tournaments, has missed the last three games of the season with a groin injury, but he will undergo an extra week's training to make sure he is fit and ready for Brazil.
"I said to the players that I am more than happy for them to go and forget football for a week and go and get themselves mentally-prepared for the many weeks we have ahead," Hodgson added.
"But Wayne has decided to take some physios with him where he is going and to continue his programme as he is so determined that when we meet up on the 19th he'll be able to join in straight away. It's quite laudable that that's the way he thinks and I'm not trying to dissuade him."
Hodgson's only injury concern is Phil Jones, who was named in the 23 despite a shoulder injury. Uncapped Everton teenager John Stones will be drafted into the squad if Jones does not recover, Hodgson confirmed.