Chelsea captain John Terry has hailed Ashley Cole as "the best left-back in the world" amid reports that his former England colleague may be set to leave Stamford Bridge in January.
ESPN revealed on Tuesday that Cole, 31, is unlikely to accept Chelsea's offer of a new one-year contract, meaning he will be free to speak with clubs in January with a view to signing a pre-contract agreement.
However, Terry used his programme notes for Tuesday night's Capital One Cup tie against Wolves to reaffirm his admiration for the defender who made a statement on his behalf as he successfully fought of racial abuse charges in his high profile court case with Anton Ferdinand in July.
"Ash is the best left-back in the world," wrote Terry. "He is so consistent for us week after week, year after year, and pops up with some vital goals."
Terry played a full part in Chelsea's 6-0 win against Wolves, just hours after he left Wembley Stadium where he was defending himself against FA charges relating to the infamous clash with Ferdinand last October.
He made no reference to his international retirement in his notes and instead chose to focus his thoughts on matters on the field, as he toasted Saturday's tight 1-0 win against Stoke and suggested the game provided what will become a familiar script over the course of the season.
"We will see plenty more teams come to the Bridge and make it tough for us with their organisation and discipline, so it is vital that we all remain patient in those types of games and keep playing in the way we believe is best," said Terry, who was greeted with cries of 'One England captain' from the Chelsea fans on Tuesday night.
"The win over Stoke was a big one to tick off the list of tough games we will face this season. It was an important three points and the willingness we showed to keep going right until the end paid dividends when we scored the winning goal in the last 10 minutes."
Terry is set to hear his fate as his FA hearing heads into a third day on Wednesday, with the extended nature of the deliberations giving a hint to the complexities of the case.
Meanwhile, a report in the Daily Mail newspaper claimed Chelsea officials have called in police after six wallets, nine mobile phones and several watches were stolen from staff and players at the training ground.
The thefts, which took place earlier this month, were said to have been discovered when the players returned to the changing room after training at their Cobham base in Surrey.