Wilkins confident Cole will stay

Chelsea assistant coach Ray Wilkins insists Joe Cole will remain at

the club despite reports of a rift between the England midfielder

and owner Roman Abramovich.

It has been suggested Cole and his representatives have

infuriated the Russian with their hardline stance over wages during

contract negotiations.

Cole’s current contract expires this summer and there is

growing speculation that he will quit Stamford Bridge.

The midfielder is understood to want in excess of

£100,000 a week but he has failed to regularly start for Carlo

Ancelotti’s side since returning from a serious knee injury last


But Wilkins remains confident that Cole’s contract situation

will eventually be resolved and that the player still has a chance

of featuring in Fabio Capello’s England plans for the World Cup

finals this summer.

“We are desperate to keep Joe,” said Wilkins. “I know the

club are and we as a management group feel the same. He is a very

valuable asset to us.

“It is a contractual situation that he and the club I am sure

will sort out at a later stage.

“We sincerely hope he will be here next season. We would love

to keep Joe. I am sure he and the club will sort it out.

“I would not have thought his form has been affected by the

contract situation. I just think he has had a long lay off,

something like 10 months, and it is never easy to come back.

“He was outstanding in the Carling Cup against Queens Park

Rangers and then you find, when you have had a long lay off, that

your form does drop.

“Joe has just had a dip in form. He has shown in certain

games, when he has played, a lot more of that good form. He has got

to get a little bit more consistency back and then there will not

be a problem with him.

“I have spoken to Joe on numerous occasions. He is upbeat

about his future here. He loves Chelsea. He wants to stay at

Chelsea and I am sure that the club and his people will sort the

situation out.”

Wilkins also remains convinced that Cole can find a way back

into Capello’s plans.

“If he continues to work in the way he is in training and the

game time he will get from here on in, I see no reason why he

shouldn’t,” added Wilkins.

“I think he will give England something slightly different.

He can play on both sides of the pitch and in different formations.

“So Joe has a very good chance. But as Fabio said he has not

been too impressed with Joe’s form over the last couple of months,

that’s why he did not make the final 23 for the Egypt game.

“But we are quite confident that Joe can get his form back

and get into that 23 for South Africa. I am sure if he performs to

the ability we know Joe has, then Fabio will take him.”

Chelsea entertain Stoke on Sunday in the quarter-finals of

the FA Cup without suspended midfielder Michael Ballack and the

versatile Juliano Belletti.

Defender Ricardo Carvalho will face a late fitness test after

collecting a hamstring injury on international duty with Portugal.

But while many of the country’s top teams have paid the FA

Cup less than due attention this season, the holders of the trophy

insist it is still a major competition in their eyes.

“The FA Cup is massive,” said Wilkins. “Thinking back to last

May and the joy we experienced in the dressing room at Wembley.

These guys play this game to win trophies and we want to win the

trophy badly.

“We will play against a Stoke side who have had a fantastic

season up to now. They play with a lot of quality.

“Full credit to Stoke because we are in for a very tough

game. What Tony Pulis has done is quite exceptional. He has been

able to blend two ways of playing. They have played with a lot of

style at times.

“We will have to defend very bravely when the long throws and

the set-pieces come in but they are part and parcel of the game and

we have to be up for it.”

Meanwhile the club have been rocked by the loss of full-back

Jose Bosingwa for the rest of the season.

Bosingwa underwent surgery on his left knee after suffering

the injury against Aston Villa in October and he will also miss the

World Cup finals with Portugal.

The 27-year-old had returned to light training recently but

he now requires further surgery.

The Portugal international has played 57 games for Chelsea

since signing from Porto for £16.2m in May 2008.

“Bosingwa will be out for the season,” said Wilkins. “He will

have another operation on his knee and that is him out of the World

Cup as well.”