Ashley Cole handed World Cup boost

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Carlo Ancelotti confirmed on Thursday that Ashley Cole was pencilled in to make his Chelsea comeback against Stoke City in a fortnight, meaning the defender should be fit for the World Cup.

The 29-year-old has been out of action since February after breaking his ankle against Everton and there had been fears England would be forced to do without one of their most valuable assets.

"Ashley Cole is closer to playing," Ancelotti told reporters at Chelsea's training ground.

"He needs more days of training but he will be ready, we hope, for the game against Stoke. He is doing very well.

"Ashley would have three (league) games before the end of the season and that's enough (for World Cup preparations). After the end of the season, England also have one month before the start of the World Cup, so he will be ready, 100%."

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