Come in Ryan Bertrand, Ashley Cole your time is up?

Ryan Bertrand

Is it time for Chelsea to pull the trigger on dropping Ashley Cole and giving Ryan Bertrand an extended run in the side?

If Chelsea truly are set on their decision not to offer Ashley Cole a long-term contract, and the left-back is not intending on accepting a short-term one, then sooner or later the club are going to have to drop him from the team.

It the eventuality they know that Cole will leave them at the end of the season, it makes little sense to keep playing him, rather give his potential replacement a chance.

At present his future is uncertain at best; player and club are in stark disagreement over their differences - but Roberto di Matteo is said to have pleaded Cole's case with the board for a longer contract, but there has been no movement as yet.

However Cole's form has begged the question as to whether the time to bring in young Bertrand is now, rather than towards the end of the season.

The 31-year-old left-back was run ragged by Antonio Valencia at Stamford Bridge a couple of weekends ago, and gave the ball away for the goal which led to Swansea's equaliser when the Blues dropped points at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.

Is he in decline? It is way too kneejerk to talk like that. But he is clearly in a period of poor form, and Chelsea need to take stock of his contract situation mentioned above.

Why keep an out of form player whose contract is expiring in the team as an automatic choice, when there is a talented young option in Ryan Bertrand available and chomping at the bit.

The 23-year-old has made three starts this season in the Premier League, but none have come at left-back, rather all in midfield.

Yet Bertrand in truth offers little offensively on the left wing, not compared to the versatile options of Juan Mata and Eden Hazard, and even Marko Marin who has barely been afforded a chance as yet after returning from injury.

It makes much more sense to play him at left-back, his natural position, and this is surely where his future is long-term. So with Cole's recent wayward form surely this is the time?

Perhaps not immediately. Chelsea have a huge Champions League game against Shakhtar Donetsk at Stamford Bridge in midweek, crucial to them if they are to progress after their loss in the Ukraine a fortnight ago. Di Matteo is almost certain to go with Cole for such a crucial encounter because of his experience.

Beyond that there is another big game next Sunday when Chelsea host Liverpool in the Premier League. But sooner or later Di Matteo is going to have to take the plunge and give Bertrand the extended run he needs in the side for the sake of his career. Cole's current form is only bringing it forward.

Should Di Matteo drop Cole for Bertrand? What is your view?

image: © Ben Sutherland

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