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'Baines Has Incredible Influence'

@Everton

Leighton Baines’ positive influence on the rest of the Everton squad has been praised by Roberto Martinez ahead of tonight's trip to Fulham.

The left-back continues be a figure of consistency in all aspects of his game - an attribute the Blues boss believes is bringing the best out of the 28-year-old’s Toffees teammates.

Baines played every single minute of the Blues’ Premier League fixtures last season, a record he has continued into the start of this term.

He has helped Everton record clean sheets in over half of their top-flight matches so far this campaign and displayed his set-piece prowess with a marvellous deadball double in the weekend's win at West Ham United.

“He has an incredible influence,” Martinez said of the former Wigan full-back. “When you see him play in that manner [against West Ham], he raises the level of everyone in the squad.

“They see him as an important figure - not just at the football club but in English football.

“At his age he is starting to influence a lot of people and when you see him perform in that way he is a huge asset for us.

“You look at his performance at West Ham and I have never seen a player take free-kicks like other players take penalty kicks.”

The debate continues to rumble on as to who should be Roy Hodgson’s first-choice pick for the England left-back position.

Ashley Cole started both of the recent World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine.

But Martinez insists Baines’ form cannot be ignored, particularly with two crunch games to play against Montengro and Poland next month.

The Blues boss continued: “You look at his [Baines] performances in the last two games and he has told everyone where he is, how mature he is and how ready he is to represent England and take Everton to a different level.”

Tickets for next Monday's visit of Newcastle United are now on general sale. To buy online click here, or call 0871 663 1878.

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