Cole eyes England start

Carlton Cole is eyeing a place in England's starting lineup after making his seventh substitute appearance for his country in Wednesday's 3-1 friendly victory over Egypt.

While West Ham United club-mates Robert Green and Matthew Upson both played the full 90 minutes against the Africa Cup of Nations winners, the 26-year-old was sent on as an 86th-minute replacement for Wayne Rooney at Wembley.

While Cole was pleased to add to his tally of caps, he admitted that he would rather have joined Green and Upson on the pitch from the kick-off.


"I'm happy that I got a little look-in," he told WHUTV. "I was hoping to get on a bit earlier, but I got on and showed that I've come back well. I'm pleased the manager has seen what I'm doing at West Ham and obviously enjoys it, so I got the chance to come on and make an impact. It was only six minutes, but it's a cap at the end of the day.

"Obviously, I'm training and playing with high-quality players and it makes my confidence higher to know that I can blend in with them. It's good for me and it's good for West Ham. I'll be taking it back to West Ham and trying to up training as well and take it to a higher level.

"We've already got Rob Green and Matty Upson starting for England and I would like to emulate them."

Cole watched on as fellow substitute Peter Crouch scored twice against the Egyptians, but the Hammer was far from unhappy to see a contender for a place in England's 2010 FIFA World Cup squad hit the target.

"There were no mixed emotions at all, because a win is a win. I was quite relieved when he scored because there was no way that Egypt should come here and dominate us and us not get a goal. I'm actually happy for Crouchy and Shaun that they got their goals."

Cole has recently returned after eight weeks out with a hamstring problem but, while he has scored two goals in three league matches since making his comeback, the striker insists there is much more to come in terms of form and fitness.

"I'm not back to my best already. I've still got a lot of work to do, but I'm getting there and I'm on the right road."

West Ham's leading scorer will hope to hit top gear against Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, having suffered a pair of defeats at the hands of the Trotters in the Carling Cup and Barclays Premier League already this season.

"We need to beat Bolton. It's obviously an important game. Every game between now and the end of the season is important to us, so we obviously need to dig in deep and get the results that we need."