With the England star’s contract expiring next June, coach Carlo Ancelotti’s tactical switch fuelled the belief that Cole will quit Stamford Bridge at the end of this season.
Chelsea coach Ray Wilkins revealed afterwards that the decision was tactical and that there was no injury problem.
Wilkins said: “We have a squad full of quality and the manager will change things.
“Joe wasn’t injured, but he has been out a long while with an injury and is coming back. But we are not concerned.”
The suggestion of any split between Cole and his club will convince Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham that they can lure him away from Stamford Bridge as a free agent, says the Sunday Mirror.