Leighton Baines grows in stature as England understudy


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The Independent Football

In the absence of the injured Ashley Cole tomorrow in Moldova, Leighton Baines is set to start for the first time in a competitive game for England, having won all but one of his nine caps in friendlies.

Playing understudy to the highest-capped full-back in the history of the England team is not easy but then, if anyone has the temperament for it, it is Baines, a laid-back Liverpudlian with a philosophical approach to the stop-start nature of his international career. "I guess it could be [frustrating]," he said. "But I have the release of playing for my club every week, which is the bread and butter of a footballer's career.

"Also I have appreciation of the guy ahead of me. He's a good player. You have to respect that. Just like I've been doing, really, keep doing my best for my club and coming away and getting involved when selected.

"I can't get too frustrated about that when the guy in front of me is such a good player. I have so much respect for him and what he's doing. That's what you just have to bide your time. Which is what I'm doing."

Baines also revealed that the England dressing room is organised according to the height of players, with him and Cole consigned to an area for those of smaller stature. "I get on really well with Ash. We have a situation in the dressing room when we train –there's a bit of a separate one for midgets.

"We get put in the separate one, because we all wear smaller kits so I guess it's easier for the kitman. There's only about three of us in there. I get on quite well with Ash because we rub shoulders in there. It's just half a dozen of us who change right next door – the changing room isn't huge, just to make it more spacious. I get on really well with Ash, got to know him really well, just being in his company I end up chatting with him quite a lot."