Baines eager to take England chance

05 September 2012 02:49

Leighton Baines has no issue living in Ashley Cole's shadow - but he is eager to step into the limelight himself in Moldova on Friday.

Cole's hopes of becoming the first full-back to make a century of England appearances during this month's World Cup double-header have been dashed by the ankle injury that has prevented him making the trip to Chisinau.

It means finally, two and a half years after making his debut, Baines will get to start a competitive game for the first time and he said: "Ashley has been fantastic over the years. He is someone, for the rest of us, for Ryan (Bertrand) and myself and Kieran Gibbs, who is not in the squad but is a young left-back coming through, to look at and try to learn from."

Cole's absence is just one injury blow Hodgson has suffered in the build-up to Friday's game.

Most damaging is the gashed thigh that rules Wayne Rooney out.

Fellow striker Andy Carroll has been sidelined by a hamstring strain, whilst Gareth Barry has still not recovered from the groin injury that ruled him out of Euro 2012.

"The depth of the squad is going to be tested," said Baines. "There are a lot of players missing but we still have a strong squad and it is well capable of winning these two games."

And that would be the perfect start to what Baines regards as the real beginning to Hodgson's tenure.

"We are getting the benefit of Roy's experience in preparation now. The structure that he likes to set the team up by," he said. "The situation before was slightly different because of the changeover of manager before a tournament, which wasn't ideal.

"Now it starts properly."

Source: PA