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GREG O'KEEFFE: Why England boss Fabio Capello should turn to Everton's Leighton Baines next summer
Published : 13 Feb 2010 01:20:00Rss feed
PICTURE the scene. Saturday June 12, Rustenburg, South Africa. England take on the USA in the first World Cup match of Group C. Rarely have World Cup games had such a curious vested interest for Evertonians. But already circumstances this week have contrived to make England's opening game against Bob Bradley's side an intriguing one. When Ashley Cole limped off during Everton's magnificent 2-1 win over Chelsea on Wednesday, the future inadvertently looked a little more interesting for a certain Leighton Baines. The 25-year-old Toffees left-back has 16 England under-21 caps already and not many would bet against him adding a senior cap to his name in England's March friendly against Egypt. With number one choice Cole being ruled out for three months, coincidentally after a collision with USA's Landon Donavan, it gives Baines a massive opportunity to grab a ticket to ride to South Africa in June. Last season, the Kirkby-born and bred defender was in terrific form supplying more assists than any other defender in the league, and smashed home a fantastic penalty in a nerve jangling FA Cup Semi final shoot out at Wembley. There is no doubting that England could do with some unfazed and calm penalty takers in their squad for the South Africa showpiece. Baines has maintained his form this season with some excellent performances and another five assists, more than left back hopefuls Cole, Wayne Bridge and Stephen Warnock. This week David Moyes described Baines as "our most consistent player all season," and not many Blues would argue with the Scot.
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