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England's Ashley Cole, a mainstay in the team since making his debut in 2001, has retired from International football.

Considered one of the best defenders of his generation, Cole  has been left out of manager Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad - which is due to be announced today.

Hodgson described it as one of his "hardest" decisions.

"Among many difficult decisions I have had to make for my squad, not selecting Ashley was one of the hardest," he told the FA's website.

Hodgson told the 33-year-old he was putting his faith in youth, with an eye on both this summer's World Cup and Euro 2016.

His107 caps put him fifth in England's all-time appearances list.

"I got the call from Roy and agree the England team should be about the young players. I think it best I retire from the England team now," Cole tweeted. "We have a great manager and team and I wish them only success. I will be supporting them like a true fan. Thanks to everyone for everything."

Cole's Chelsea contract expires in the summer and after limited action this term - which no doubt influenced Hodgson's decision - his future is likely to be away from Stamford Bridge.

 Image via Getty


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Ashley Cole retires from International football
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