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.
Unlike David Beckham, Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton, three of the notable group, or even Steven Gerrard who became the sixth member last year, there is little public affection for Cole, who has been jeered by England supporters in the past.
For, whilst there is admiration for his qualities as a footballer, as a man there are too many negative headlines to forget.
Hodgson though, speaks as he finds. And he finds a thoroughly decent chap.
"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.
"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."
What Hodgson has no intention of doing is publicly dissecting the relative merits of each individual.
He has to do it in his head though. Because when the team sheet goes in, someone's name has to be on it.
"It is a difficult one but they will just have to fight it out," he said.
"The competition will be fierce and I'll have to make a decision - and I know that if the player plays well and we win I'll be held as having made the right decision; and if we play badly and lose I'll have made the wrong one.
"But that's how it should be for a top footballing nation. We should have a couple of good choices in each position. The Brazilians certainly do."