Ashley Cole is hoping Saturday’s friendly at Brighton will provide the final match fitness he feels he needs before the season’s competitive start next weekend.

We travel to the American Express Community Stadium to meet former Chelsea man Gus Poyet’s Championship side tomorrow afternoon, in a clash live on Chelsea TV from 2.30pm. Cole is hoping he can play his first full 90 minutes of the summer after reporting back from his holidays a little later than some of his team-mates due to England commitments at Euro 2012.

‘I feel good to be back in England, I don’t think I am 100 per cent sharp yet, I am probably behind some of the lads by about 10 days so there is catching up to do,’ admitted the 31-year-old. ‘I feel sharp in the little closing down runs but the longer runs feel a lot harder, especially when you’re trying to repeat them for a longer period, which is what I do in my game, but that will come.

‘It’s something that only match practice can really fix, you can train as hard as you like, pre-season is a bit like coming back from an injury, but you need the minutes in a game to get your full fitness. I don’t think anyone is ever at peak fitness at the start of a season, you feel your way into it.’

It has been a mixed pre-season so far in terms of results, but as Cole says, it is more about playing football than winning games at this stage.

‘I’ve not played 90 minutes yet this pre-season, so hopefully that will come on Saturday at Brighton, where we have a lot of fans travelling and it will be the first chance for a lot of them to get a look at us,’ the left-back said.

‘Then after that it’s the Community Shield, which everyone loves to win to kick off the season, but sometimes people can get carried away with it and think it’s an indicator of what is to come, but it doesn’t work like that, it’s a friendly game really, albeit one that you obviously want to win.’

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