England manager Roy Hodgson has indicated that Luke Shaw is in a shoot-out with Ashley Cole for one place at the World Cup.
Hodgson has confirmed that he does not intend to play regular left-back Leighton Baines in tonight’s friendly against Denmark, signalling that the Everton man’s place in Brazil is all but secured.
Instead, the England boss wants to use the final match before naming his World Cup squad to look at Shaw and Cole.
“All three of them want to play, but even with substitutions I can’t fit in three left-backs,” said Hodgson.
“You might as well know now that I’ve spoken to Leighton and he won’t feature, unless we get an incredible number of injuries.
“It’s the right moment, in this game, to look at one of, or both, Luke and Ashley Cole, as Leighton has been playing regularly for us.
“The two I need to look at in an England shirt are Ashley and Luke.”
The battle between those two promises to be one of the most intriguing before Hodgson names his 23-man squad, on May 13, for the World Cup.
Cole, 33, has experience in his favour, having earned 106 caps for his country, but his position has come under significant threat after dropping well out of favour at Chelsea.
Shaw, by contrast, has been one of the most outstanding left-backs in the Premier League this season, and has won rave reviews for his performances with Saints.
However, the 18-year-old has never played for England at senior level before and, therefore, arguably has more to prove this week than Cole.
Shaw is relishing the challenge, though.
He said: “The competition spurs me on.
“Obviously, to have competition like that is amazing for me, and I am only going to thrive off it.
“If I keep working hard in training and, obviously, play well for my club, hopefully I might be able to get a chance, and then who knows what might happen.”
The teenage ace, in an interview with the FA, added: “If you get a chance, you have to give everything and try and impress the manager.
“Hopefully I can do it this week.”