Challengers Baines backs Cole

13 October 2012 11:47

Leighton Baines has set his sights on holding onto the England left-back role but still expects Ashley Cole to reach the 100-cap mark.

Baines turned in another impressive performance during last night's 5-0 win over minnows San Marino in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley. The Everton player has started all four internationals since the Euro 2012 finals as Cole nurses an ankle problem, and now looks a genuine contender for the number three shirt.

"Ashley is a terrific player but, in the games I've played, I've shown I can come in and do a job as well," Baines said. "It would be nice to hold onto the shirt if I can. You want to play so, the more games you play, the happier you are."

Baines admitted: "It has been a long wait for me but Ashley has deserved every one of his 98 caps and hopefully he will reach the 100 mark because he deserves it.

"I don't think I will be denying him that. It will happen. Ashley is a top player and I'm sure he will get to the milestone.

"I've no idea if I can challenge him. All I can do is play as well as I can for Everton and that's all I'm really focused on."

Baines has been in fine form for Everton as they have made an impressive start to the campaign, having been notorious slow starters in recent years.

But he claimed: "I don't know if I'm in the best form of my career. My form at the moment doesn't feel too different to what it has been over the last couple of years."

When asked if regular European football would bolster his own claims, Baines said: "Maybe. Probably it is better asking the manager if he feels that is a factor in his decision-making.

"But I suppose if you were playing in those competitions, it would weigh in your favour."

Source: PA

World Cup Group G

England 2 0 0 6 6
Belgium 2 0 0 6 6
Tunisa 0 0 2 -4 0
Panama 0 0 2 -8 0
Last updated : 10:18