LEIGHTON BAINES admits patience will be the key as he bids to shine in England’s Euro 2012 mission.
The Everton defender did not make it onto the pitch during Saturday’s 1-0 win over Belgium at Wembley, with Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson preparing to give first-choice Ashley Cole a full run-out instead.
Baines, 27, was voted into the PFA team of the year ahead of Cole last season, but has yet to dislodge him in the national set-up, despite featuring during Hodgson’s first game in charge against Norway.
However Baines accepts that Cole’s impressive form for club and country, with the Chelsea man having recently lifted the Champions League trophy, has made it harder than ever for him to feature – and he is prepared to bide his time.
He said: “I don’t really think that much about it. I just try and play as well as I can for my club and hopefully keep getting called up. That’s what I have been doing, but Ashley is a top player so I will just bide my time and keep myself as focused as I can.
“I knew where I stood beforehand, so it’s nothing new really. It’s about physically and mentally keeping yourself as fresh as possible so you are ready when called upon.
“It’s disappointing not to get a run out, though it was understandable because the manager was probably wanting to play his back four together for what will be his back four in the tournament.
“It’s my first tournament so I’m just buzzing to be going over there and it will be a fantastic experience for a lot of us who have never been before.”
Even though he was unable to go head to head with team-mate Marouane Fellaini during England’s 1-0 win over Belgium, Baines was suitably impressed with the midfielder’s all-action display.
“I thought Felli was different class and I think a lot of our lads said the same when they came off. They were saying how good a player he is,” he said. “He stood out and Belgium are going to be a top side in a few years.
“He’s been fantastic over the last few years for the club, a great signing really. It is important to keep people like that though I’m sure there will be a few admiring glances because his performance was fantastic.”