Baines happy to learn from Cole
England left-back has no issue living in Cole's shadow
Last Updated: September 5, 2012 2:55pm
Leighton Baines says he regularly takes lessons from fellow England left-back Ashley Cole as he prepares to fill in for the Chelsea man in Friday's opening World Cup qualifier.
Cole's hopes of becoming the first full-back to make a century of England appearances during this month's qualifying double-header against Moldova and Ukraine 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 lets 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," said Baines. "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 said: "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."
Baines says the England camp has a more relaxed feel since Roy Hodgson succeeded Fabio Capello at the helm.
"There is a shift in mentality," said Baines
"When you are around the place you are more relaxed and enjoy each other's company a bit more. Maybe it was a bit stiffer before that.
"It is difficult to make direct comparisons but Roy has had a positive influence.
"He is an English manager, so it is a lot easier for him to get his points across to the players.
"Now he has more time with the squad it has given him more chance to implement those ideas. Hopefully you will see that out on the pitch."