Ashley Cole poised to miss decisive qualifying double-header paving way for Leighton Baines
Leighton Baines is in line to help England secure their World Cup finals berth with Ashley Cole poised to miss his country’s decisive qualifying double-header.
Cole is expected to sit out the Wembley showdowns with Montenegro on Friday and Poland next Tuesday after suffering a rib injury during Chelsea’s win at Norwich City over the weekend.
And that will open the door for in-form Everton defender Baines to stake his claim for a permanent left-back role over the next week.
Roy Hodgson’s England currently lead Group H and know that victory in both of their final two games will guarantee a spot in the World Cup finals in Brazil next year.
Baines has won 19 caps since making his debut against Egypt in March 2010 but has previously started only four competitive matches for his country.
The 28-year-old would likely be joined by centre-back Phil Jagielka in defence with fellow Goodison team-mate Ross Barkley expected to be among the substitutes.
The Everton trio join up with the England squad today having lost their unbeaten Premier League record in the 3-1 defeat at Manchester City on Saturday.
Defeat, though, could not detract from an impressive start to Roberto Martinez’s reign as manager, with Baines indicating he was enjoying learning under the Spaniard.
“It’s a work in progress but we’re working towards being a much better team,” said the defender.
“I’m enjoying that aspect of it. I’m learning and hopefully we will continue to build on what we’ve started.
“We’ve been working on different things and people have begun to enjoy watching some of them. We’ve just got to tighten up the other aspects and keep developing.”
Baines added: “We’ve still got things we need to improve on. We gave the ball away too quickly high up the pitch to allow us to get any momentum.
“So every time we started to creep forward we’d lose it and that’d one of the things we’re working on improving; being better in possession in the opposition’s half. It’s about sustaining attacks.
“Not doing it against City meant we kept ending up on the back foot again and susceptible to the counter-attack.
“We shouldn’t have to just reflect on it afterwards. The next step tactically is to show that awareness during a game and say ’Okay, we’ve seen what you’re doing,’ and then change, but we didn’t.
“Now we want to come back from the international break and get back to winning ways.”
Meanwhile, Martinez has been nominated for the Premier League manager of the month for September after recording successive wins over Chelsea, West Ham United and Newcastle United.
Martinez is up against Arsene Wenger of Arsenal, Southampton’s Mauricio Pochettino and Steve Bruce, manager of Everton’s next opponents Hull City.