Jose Mourinho has challenged Ashley Cole to oust Cesar Azpilicueta from the Chelsea side and prove the left-back deserves a recall.
Cole watched the last two Chelsea games – a 3-0 win over Schalke in the UEFA Champions League last week and the 2-2 draw with West Brom on Saturday – from the bench as an unused substitute after Mourinho opted to give Azpilicueta the nod.
Mourinho feels his decision to play Azpilicueta – a right-back by trade – ahead of Cole has paid off, but told the England international that he will be welcomed back into the starting XI if he shows more “fight”.
“I decided for Azpilicueta to play against Schalke and he was fantastic,” said the Chelsea manager. “On Saturday, he was very good again.
“Ashley is a top professional, he is a fighter.
“He has to work hard, to fight hard because the place (in the side) is his place.
“Of course, it is not Azpilicueta’s best position, and it is not a position where Ashley can think that he is in trouble now.
“No, he has to just work, fight and the position is there waiting for him, no problem.”