Clichy admits Cole fears

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Arsenal youngster Gael Clichy, ready for a first team run of eight weeks due to Ashley Cole's injury, admits he feared the England star was going to leave Highbury over the summer.

Cole was found guilty of making an approach to London rivals Chelsea and, after publicly criticising influential figures at The Gunners, it appeared as though his future at the club was in jeopardy.

Clichy, always an able deputy for his senior partner when called upon, would have anticipated a more influential role if Cole had left.

However, Cole opted to resolve his differences and sign a new contract with the North London side, and Clichy expressed his relief that Arsenal managed to keep hold of their world class star despite the impact it may have on his own prospects.

"It's true I'd have had my chance if Ashley had gone and I did think that might happen for a while," Clichy told The Sun.

"But it's a good thing for Arsenal that he stayed. He is one of the best left-backs in the world.

"I hope to be as good as him or even better one day but I am happy to be inspired by him at the moment.

"People say we are very similar in style and it's true I like getting forward too. I take that as a compliment.

"Just as I take it as a compliment when people say I fit in well when I get my chance and have never let Arsenal down."

Clichy is ready to step into the breach following Cole's stress fracture of the foot sustained on international duty with England, a role that he has fulfilled with distinction since 2003.

Despite his last of match practice due to his own injury problems this season, Clichy is confident that he can help Arsenal close the gap on rivals Chelsea.

"I have had just a couple of reserve team games this season and two appearances as substitute against Ajax and Fulham," Clichy continued.

"But I feel ready, I like the way Arsenal play their football.

"We did not have the start we wanted this season with two defeats but we are getting back on track now."