Baines - I know my place
Published : 05 Jun 2012 15:47:22
England left-back Leighton Baines concedes he is not first choice at the European Championship, but believes he is fresh enough physically and mentally to step in at a moment's notice.
Chelsea's Ashley Cole has been an almost permanent fixture on the left of the national team's defence for a decade and will continue that role in Poland and Ukraine. That has almost helped Baines come to terms with his position as back-up, so when he did not get on the pitch for Saturday's friendly win over Belgium he took it all in his stride.
"I don't really think that much about it. I just try and play as well as I can for my club and hopefully keep getting called up," the Everton defender told the Liverpool Echo.
"I knew where I stood beforehand, so it's nothing new really. It's about physically and mentally keeping yourself as fresh as possible so you are ready when called upon.
"It's disappointing not to get a run out, though it was understandable because the manager was probably wanting to play his back four together for what will be his back four in the tournament.
"It's my first tournament so I'm just buzzing to be going over there and it will be a fantastic experience for a lot of us who have never been before."
The 27-year-old has been the subject of summer transfer speculation, with reports linking him to Manchester United.
He has distanced himself from that and urged the club to try to hold onto their best players, with Marouane Fellaini, in opposition for Belgium at the weekend, also supposedly attracting attention from elsewhere.
"I thought Felli was different class and I think a lot of our lads said the same when they came off," added Baines of the midfielder's performance at Wembley.
"He's been fantastic over the last few years for the club, a great signing really. It is important to keep people like that, though I'm sure there will be a few admiring glances because his performance was fantastic."