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Stoke City (A) Wed 4 Mar 2015, 19:45, Barclays Premier League

by Matthew Gamble @efc_mattgamble

Leighton Baines wants to keep hold of the England left-back shirt after impressing this season.

The Everton man has played the last three games for Roy Hodgson's side, including Friday's 5-0 win over San Marino, but has Ashley Cole, the regular choice in that position for the last 10 years, breathing down his neck.

Cole is two short of a century of caps but is four years older than Baines, who would appear to be his obvious long-term successor.

But the ex-Wigan star is only looking short-term and isn't sure whether he'll start the next England game in Poland on Tuesday.

He said: “Who knows? I’m not sure. I will just keep playing as well as I can. I don’t want to get drawn into making comments on things like that.

“Ashley is a terrific player but in the games I have played I have shown I can come in and do a job as well. It’s nice to hold on to the shirt.

“You want to play so the more games you do play the happier you are. I have started the last few games so I’m very happy.

“Of course I want more of this. It’s natural. Everyone wants to play so getting the games recently has been nice."

Cole has been a controversial figure at times, a contrast in many ways to the quiet, level-headed Baines.

But the Blues man insisted: "Ashley has deserved every one of his caps and hopefully he will reach the 100 mark because he deserves it. All I can do is play as well as I can for Everton and that’s all I’m focused on.

“Ashley is a top player and he will get to his milestone.

“But I am comfortable in the squad. I have been in the last few years and feel part of it."

Regardless of who gets the nod in Warsaw, Baines knows the challenge will be an entirely different entity to that posed by San Marino.

“Without being disrespectful, San Marino are not quite up to the standard of the majority of sides at this level," declared Baines.

“It’s a different entity when you have a side like this but it’s just about getting the job done and getting the game won – and we have done that.

“We know Poland are a much better side – a really good team with some good players. It will be hostile, too."

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