Hodgson has already decided Cole will join a select band by becoming only the seventh England player to reach 100 caps in Wednesday's Wembley friendly with Brazil. But unlike David Beckham, Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton, three of the notable group, there is little public affection for Cole, who has been jeered by England supporters in the past.
"These are things that occurred in the distant past when I wasn't even in the country," said Hodgson. "And if I had been I wouldn't have been hanging on every word. The media have a lot of power and that does have an effect on people. It's a fact of life. If Ashley has had that treatment neither him or I can do anything about it."
He added: "I judge him as a football player. Is he going to be the right man to help England win football matches? That's what really interests me.
"Over the last nine months I have found him a very good professional, who prefers to do his talking on the football field; but I see nothing wrong with that."
Strangely enough, Cole is under more pressure for his England place than he has been virtually since the day he made his debut as a 20-year-old against Albania in 2001.
For Leighton Baines' impressive form and deadly accuracy at set pieces has led some to conclude the Everton man deserves to play on merit, not just when Cole is unavailable, as he has been with increasing frequency.
"Leighton doesn't have to do anything to prove himself," said Hodgson.
"He knows he's capable of playing for England at left-back, just as Ashley knows he's capable, which he has proved with a hundred caps.
"Ashley will play on Wednesday. Whether he will play the whole game, half or whether he will start, I still have to decide."
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