Chelsea defender Ashley Cole says he has never felt fitter despite rumours of an ankle problem, according to Sky Sports.
The 31-year-old scored his first goal for two-and-a-half years as the European champions stumbled over the line in a 1-0 victory over Stoke City as Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Cole, who was absent for England’s two World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine earlier this month, insists he is 100%, “I feel as fit as I’ve ever been.”
Cole also spoke about his goal, “I didn’t have too much time to think about it. That’s probably why I did that. I just thought I would take a gamble and get in the box, and, luckily, it fell for me.”
Spaniard Juan Mata was the player who backheeled the ball to Ashley Cole who duly obliged with a sublime chip over Stoke’s Asmir Begovic with five minutes remaining. Mata admits that he was surprised to see the left-back standing in a centre-forward position, “I didn’t know it was Ashley Cole. I guessed that someone was there.”
Mata believes that Cole’s finished underlined his all-round talent, “Luckily, it was Ashley and he chipped the ball and he showed that he’s one of the best left-backs in the world.”
Cole believes that his role at the club has changed since manager Roberto Di Matteo has adopted a new tactical approach this season, “I tend to stay back a little more. With the players we’ve got, we have to change the way we play and we have to get the ball down as much as we can and give to people like Oscar and Eden [Hazard] and Juan [Mata] to try to make some magic.”
Cole, who is desperate to earn a new contract for the Blues, says he has been impressed by the young trio so far this season, “When the fans watch these players, they’re so exciting. When Oscar’s getting the ball and running at defenders, when Hazard’s got the ball and running at defender, it’s exciting, and the future’s looking good for Chelsea.”
Cole is likely to be one of several players rested when Chelsea open their Capital One cup campaign against Championship highflyers Wolverhampton Wanderers before a crucial visit to Cole’s former club and another unbeaten side in the Premier League, Arsenal.