SG: Fans should respect Cole
Steven Gerrard wants England fans to respect the achievement of Ashley Cole, who is poised to reach the 100-cap mark against Brazil this week.
Skipper Gerrard believes Cole has at times been the best left-back in the world and England's most consistent performer during his time with the national side.
Cole has not always been the most popular player with England supporters, but Gerrard wants fans to acknowledge his contribution over the past decade when he steps out against the Brazilians at Wembley on Wednesday night.
Gerrard, who won his 100th cap against Sweden in November, said: "I think it's very important the Wembley crowd respect what Ashley has done for England.
"I think if the fans take a moment and have a think of what Ashley Cole has given in an England shirt over the last 10 or 12 years, it has been phenomenal.
"He's probably been the most consistent player I've played with during my time.
"It's going to be Ashley's night, if he's picked to play, and the players are certainly going to show him a hell of a lot of support. Let's hope the fans do as well."
Gerrard admits players get used to criticism and use it as a driving force.
He said: "Yes, of course, there are times when you wonder if the criticism is all worth it. But players are thick skinned. We can take criticism off you lads (the media) and the supporters.
"There's no problem with that at all and sometimes it actually helps drive you on to prove people wrong and prove you are good enough to be at this level.
"Ashley is big enough and strong enough to take any criticism that comes his way. But I think anyone here or in that ground on Wednesday night can't take that away from Ashley.
"He deserves to be a 100-cap player, there's no doubt about it. I think there's been years over the last 12 when Ashley Cole has been the best left-back in the world.
"We've been lucky to have him. I think the supporters realise that as well and let's hope they give him a fantastic reception.
"It was a great feeling for me to get to 100 caps in the last game so I know what Ashley is going to be feeling, and credit to him."
Gerrard is relishing the clash with Brazil but admits he already has one eye on next month's vital World Cup qualifier with Montenegro in Podgorica.
England drew 2-2 on the same ground in a Euro 2012 qualifier when Wayne Rooney was sent off.
Gerrard said: "To play Brazil at Wembley is fantastic but there's a little bit in the mind that's already waiting for the Montenegro game because it is going to be a key game.
"You can't get away from that. With all due respect to San Marino (the game before), that's a match we should win comfortably, but Montenegro is going to be a massive game.
"If we can keep everybody fit then I'm really confident."
However, Gerrard added: "I think there is a lot of hard work to do in the group still, that's for sure. We are certainly not underestimating where we are and how much there is to do.
"But if we get three points in Montenegro it puts us back in the driving seat. I think Ukraine have had a couple of disappointing results, which have helped us.
"At the moment it's looking like a two-horse race. If we can beat them (Montenegro) in their back yard it's going to be good. We don't want to go into a play-off."