Wembley heartbreak as Cole is axed by Jose

Last updated at 00:05 19 May 2007

Ashley Cole has suffered FA Cup Final heartbreak by being left out of the Chelsea side to face Manchester United tomorrow.

The defender has done everything possible to be fit for the Wembley showpiece but Jose Mourinho will not risk throwing him into a duel

with Cristiano Ronaldo.

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Ashley Cole

The head coach will go with Wayne Bridge instead, who has started six of Chelsea’s last eight matches and been in impressive form all season.

Cole has been struggling with an ankle injury and has put off an operation in order to be involved in the Final.

He has always shone against Ronaldo, one of United’s main threats, but has not looked his normal self in training this week.

An injection will be required for Cole to play any part in the game and he will have surgery after the Final but his failure to recover sufficiently to start will be a big blow.

He insisted his controversial move

from Arsenal last summer was motivated

by a desire to win trophies with

Chelsea but injuries have prevented

him enjoying their success this season.

The 26-year-old raced back from a

nasty knee problem for the Carling

Cup Final in February but was not

fully fit and stayed on the bench as his

team-mates beat his former club in Cardiff.

Bridge said: "You could say Jose

has been a fair manager with me. Let’s hope it stays that way. I am very excited to be going to Wembley. I feel like I have played well and it would be nice to be able to carry on.

"I think I have done myself justice,

I have done well and I have shown I

can compete with Ashley.

"I thought I could have been pushed

aside but I have played a lot of games.

"I have just kept working hard and

when you play you have to make sure

you have a good game and do well for

the team and I think I have done that.

"I never wanted to leave here. I

always loved it. Even after Ashley

came in I wanted to compete for my place."

Cole may claim a place on the bench

but his week of misery contrasts

with that of John Obi Mikel.

Head coach Mourinho is set to take

a gamble on the fitness of the

Nigerian. Mourinho is short of

options in midfield and is set to take

what he described as a 'big risk' by

starting Mikel after he came off

against Everton with an injured hamstring

last Sunday.

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