Sven Goran Eriksson has urged England boss Fabio Capello to gamble with the fitness of his top players.
Cole fractured his left ankle against Everton in early February and, following surgery, is expected to return in mid-May.
Eriksson faced similar dilemmas when David Beckham broke his metatarsal before the 2002 World Cup and when Wayne Rooney did the same four years later and he has no regrets about taking them to the finals.
"You have to be in the situation of Capello to decide that, by talking to the doctors and experts," he told The Times.
"It's important you take exact advice on the injury and whether he will get back in a couple of weeks.
"They (Beckham and Rooney) were two extremely important players and when the doctors said it was okay, I had no problem with my decision.
"Every case is different. [But] remember you have three or four weeks of preparation time at the end of the season [before the World Cup]. I leave it to Capello."