Jose Mourinho held a thoroughly inane press conference on Friday in which the only interesting question came right at the beginning. Asked about the health of Fernando Torres and Ashley Cole, he confirmed that Torres wasn't ready to play against West Ham but that Ashley Cole was selected. Now he's elaborated a little bit more:
(Cole) is not injured. He feels pain. He has not a broken rib any more. He is in condition to play football. He has a little bit of pain. It's a limitation. Can he sprint 100%? Maybe not. Can he jump 100%? Maybe not. But he's not injured.
I was speaking a few weeks ago to a top tennis player and he told me it's very rare he plays a game 100%. He always has something: one day a finger, another day the back, another the ankle. He's almost never feeling absolutely top. It's the same for football players. He (Cole) has pain at this moment. He coped with it at a certain level. He's ready to go and to play. But he has a little limitation.
A fullback that can't sprint or jump at 100 percent? Sign me up! In the extended quotes, Mourinho confirms that Cole is still behind Azpilicueta in the pecking order at the moment, presumably because Azpilicueta's not an elder statesman recovering from a broken rib. It sounds a bit like a walk-back from the 'selected' quotes yesterday, but the manager chose his words carefully. Cole is selected -- for the bench, and given Mourinho's substitution patterns, barring injury it doesn't seem likely that there'll be a straight swap at left back.
The Basel game in midweek seems like a realistic return for Cole.