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Southampton (A) Sat 20 Dec 2014, 15:00, Barclays Premier League

Baines' Watching Brief

by Matthew Gamble @efc_mattgamble

Leighton Baines has been handed a familiar watching brief for England's game against Ireland tonight.

But his full-back clubmate Seamus Coleman will definitely start for Ireland after their boss Giovanni Trapattoni made his usual move of naming the starting XI in advance of the fixture.

If Baines were to emerge from the bench to replace Cole, it could precipitate an intriguing battle with Coleman.

Phil Jagielka could also feature for England as he aims to stake a claim to become a first choice centre half.

"I think I am getting closer and closer to my best team," said Hodgson.

"There are some possibilities for speculation at the centre of the defence, and that's an area where I'm looking for confirmation from these two matches."

The evening's round of friendlies could also see Everton's Belgian pair Marouane Fellaini and Kevin Mirallas try to breach Tim Howard's USA goal in Cleveland.

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