Moyes - Baines one of the best
David Moyes believes Ashley Cole is the best left-back in England, but feels Leighton Baines pushes him close.
Last Updated: 22/04/11 3:24pm
Everton boss David Moyes believes Ashley Cole is the best left-back in England, but feels Leighton Baines pushes him close.
Chelsea defender Cole has been a regular for club and country for the best part of a decade, with few challengers having been able to get close to the standard he has set over the years.
There is, however, competition for places now at international level, with Toffees ace Baines and Arsenal starlet Kieran Gibbs having entered the fray.
Moyes has no doubt that Cole remains the stand-out pick within that trio, but he is convinced that the man currently working under him at Goodison Park is the natural successor to that throne.
He said: "I have said many times I think Ashley Cole is the best left-back in England but I think Leighton Baines is just a tad behind him.
"He needs to keep pushing very hard and improving, he needs to keep continuing his work and get better.
"You can see that Ashley Cole over the years has kept going but I think Leighton Baines has been the 'big mover'. He has done really well.
"I think he is getting closer to Ashley but in my personal opinion I think Ashley Cole is probably still England's best left-back."
Baines, a lifelong Everton supporter, was snapped up from Wigan in a £5million deal in 2007.
He initially struggled to get to grips with life in the Merseyside goldfish bowl but, like fellow England international Phil Jagielka, he has matured into one of the finest exponents of his chosen position in the business.
Moyes added: "For a while he wasn't sure if he was maybe out of his depth but I think he has grown into it.
"A lot of people have come here and not started in the team - for Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines it has taken them to get into it in the way we want.
"But in a way I think that is right because it meant the players in the team were fighting hard to keep in it while we had people like Jags and Bainesy trying to push them.
"Leighton has matured, his football has got better. He has become a bigger part of the team now and is well integrated.
"We like him and think he has had a really strong season."