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. Yet the Everton man knows his place is only temporary.
If Cole recovers in time for the visit of Ukraine to Wembley on Tuesday, Baines will be straight out of the team. It is not something Baines’ competitive instincts let him willingly accept. But the 27-year-old is aware enough to realise why the natural order has Cole at the top.
“Ashley has been fantastic over the years,” he said. “It has been difficult for anyone to get a look in.
“The main thing, for club and country, is his consistency. “He is one of the first names on the team sheet because he is such a reliable performer. He is an eight out of 10 minimum every week.
“We often depend on him.” And though Baines, and Ryan Bertrand amongst others, are in direct competition, they can learn from the 31-year-old.
“He is someone, for the rest of us, for Ryan 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.”