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Cole facing fresh Chelsea challenge as Bertrand backed

Chelsea are ready to go with Ryan Bertrand AHEAD of Ashley Cole from next season.

The Sunday Mirror says the Blues plan to start next season with 32-year-old Cole and his deputy Bertrand on an even footing.

The pair will get equal ­opportunities to cement their place as the club's first-choice left-back.

Chelsea drew up a ­development plan for 23-year-old Bertrand last year. They set him a target of making 15 Premier League appearances this season and he has already made 13.

Barring injury or loss of form, Bertrand is then ­expected to start next term 50-50 with Cole before ­beginning the 2014-15 ­season as Chelsea's ­first-choice left-back.

Chelsea decided against replacing England star Cole because they do not want to block highly-rated ­Bertrand's path.

It was also calculated that keeping the former Arsenal ace for an extra year on big wages would still be ­cheaper than trying to sign a replacement.

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