Roy Hodgson admits it will be “even tougher” to select England’s left-back for the World Cup after Ashley Cole and Luke Shaw both impressed in the friendly victory over Denmark on Wednesday night.
Cole earned his 107th cap as he played the first 45 minutes before being replaced by England debutant Shaw at half-time in the Three Lions' 1-0 victory at Wembley thanks to a late header from Daniel Sturridge.
Everton defender Leighton Baines is currently considered first choice to start England’s World Cup opener against Italy in June and Hodgson will continue to monitor all three players even though Cole is struggling for a place in the Chelsea side.
Asked about the performances of Cole and Shaw, Hodgson said: "I thought they were both very good. Ashley got forward well and his defending was good. Luke came on and carried on in the same way.
"Leighton Baines didn’t even get a look in today and it’s going to be even tougher after tonight.
"I’m going to be seeing a lot of all three players in the coming months. There’s a lot of water to pass under the bridge in the next three months before I chose who to start and who will be understudy.
"I’m a great admirer of Ashley Cole as should everyone be for what he’s done and for a player who has achieved 107 caps. He’s certainly got my respect.
"He’s been unbelievably good in training the last few days. He’s been right at the top of the running statistics for those who pay attention to that sort of thing so there’s no question about his fitness.
"His problem at the moment is he’s a specialist player. You don’t normally play two left-backs in a team and at the moment the manager of his club side is choosing someone else."
Hodgson was also delighted with the performance of the younger players in the England squad that beat Denmark, including Liverpool star Raheem Sterling and Southampton playmaker Adam Lallana, who impressed as a second-half substitute.
Hodgson added: "We put a lot of young players in there tonight and all will feel they came off the pitch having improved their chances [of going to the World Cup].
"Quite frankly, I don’t think you could get me to say anything negative about any of the young players who came in tonight.
"In the second-half we had seven players who are finding their way in international football and we didn’t give Denmark a sniff while making a lot of goal chances ourselves.
"From the 60th minute onwards we showed some really good play and Adam Lallana made a big difference."