x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Ancelotti insists Ashley Cole will remain at Chelsea

Carlo Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager, has dismissed suggestions that Ashley Cole will be leaving Stamford Bridge.

Carlo Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager, has dismissed suggestions that Ashley Cole will be leaving Stamford Bridge. Media reports have claimed that Cole, the England left-back, is a target for the Spanish side Real Madrid, whose new coach, Jose Mourinho, formerly managed the defender at Chelsea. But Ancelotti told Chelsea's website that Cole "will be an important player for us next season. One hundred per cent."

Ancelotti, who won the Premier League and FA Cup double with Chelsea last season, also said he would not be looking to add another striker to his squad for the new campaign. That news will be welcomed by Roy Hodgson, the new Liverpool manager. His Spanish international Fernando Torres had been linked with a move to Chelsea. Hodgson can now turn his attention to succeeding in Europe without damaging the club's Premier League campaign.

Liverpool face a potentially tricky Europa League third-round qualifier against either the Macedonian side Rabotnicki or Armenia's Mika later this month. The new manager is likely to have to prepare for both legs, the first scheduled for July 29, without any of his World Cup stars after the club's medical staff warned him about forcing them into action too soon after a gruelling and lengthy season.

"Possibly none of our World Cup players will play in the early Europa Cup games if we listen to the advice of the sports science people," said Hodgson, 62. "They are telling me we would be very foolhardy to use players who have only been training for three or four days on the back of the World Cup that early on because that will affect us further on down the road. "If we feel we are endangering our chances of doing well in the Premier League by risking players in the early stage of the Europa League, it will be a decision the club will have to take. You have to follow the guidance."

Liverpool's England contingent of Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Glen Johnson, Denmark's Daniel Agger and Slovakia's Martin Skrtel will all return to individual programmes at the club's Melwood training ground in the coming days while a squad made up largely of reserves are still at their Switzerland training camp.

* Agencies