Cole concentrating on England

RUSTENBURG, South Africa - Joe Cole is just glad to be part of the England World Cup team and will leave to task of finding a new club to his agent after Chelsea confirmed his departure on Wednesday.

The confident and jocular England midfielder, who looked unlikely to be selected for these finals only a few months ago despite being one of the outstanding performers in 2006, said he was focussed on shining for Fabio Capello's side.

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"That's all that is in my mind now," he said. "I've worked hard to be here and I'm leaving all the rest of it to my agent... It's been going on for a while, but that is a story for another day. Right now, I am just happy to be here. And if I play it will be fantastic."

Cole, 28, has been at the London club since 2003 but media reports said Chelsea balked at wage demands put at more than 100,000 pounds a week for one of their most popular players.

Cole failed to hold down a regular place for Chelsea, England's double-winning club champions and cup-holders, during an injury-hit season.

He underwent surgery on a knee last year and after months of recovery work found it difficult to regain a starting position for his club - and at the same time he lost his place in the England squad.

But during those difficult times, Cole said, he never lost faith in himself, even when he accepted that he may not be able to force his way back into Capello's favour.

"No, I never feared my England days were over," he told reporters. "I am very confident in my ability, but it was tough for the manager to pick me when I wasn't playing regularly, rightly or wrongly, at club level.

"Yes, for this tournament I knew I might not make it, but not that it (international career) was over. Now, there is a chance I could be playing against America and for me that is fantastic."


"Now I am back to my best and want to show it at this World Cup and play better than I did at the last one."

He added that Capello, in contrast to all the previous England managers he had worked with, kept the players "on their toes" with his discipline, training and selection methods.

"The great thing with this squad now, which is different to the whole of my England career, is that you don't know who this manager is going to pick," he said.

"This is good and, in my experience, from club level, I've always found when that is the case, and players are not picked on reputation, but on form, fitness and temperament, these are the things that get a better team ethic and the team gels together."

The working squad included winger Shaun Wright-Phillips again on Wednesday after recovering from a knee injury, but not midfielder James Milner. He was absent for a second day running, but trained in the gym with defender Ledley King.

Veteran goalkeeper David James, 39, also trained - despite a slight knee injury - on a day when a few frayed nerves began to show.

Less than 24 hours after being followed by groups of British media during a visit to a nearby game reserve, Capello lost his patience with the incessant close attention of photographers and television crews.

Shortly before training, the 63-year-old Italian saw several photographers aiming their lens into the changing rooms area, close to the pitch, at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus.

"Why do you do this, take pictures of the rooms?" he shouted. "No, no excuses. Where do you think you are? This is not Britain..."

It was a storm in an English tea-cup, but it activated a minor frenzy among the travelling London media circus.

"It's all part and parcel of being a footballer these days," Cole said. "But I think a couple of the lads would have liked to see a couple of them (media) eaten by a few of the lions."

Cole was joking. Capello, in his outburst, was not. Three days ahead of the opening group C clash against the United States on Saturday, it was a sure sign that England, and their manager in particular, are feeling the tension.

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