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Baines Gets Jags Backing

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Phil Jagielka says Everton teammate Leighton Baines deserves the chance to prove he can be England’s first-choice left-back.

Ashley Cole’s rib injury means Baines likely to play alongside the Blues’ captain when the Three Lions tackle Montenegro at Wembley on Friday.

With plenty at stake - World Cup qualification and a nation’s hopes – Jagielka believes it is an opportunity for the former Wigan man to edge above his Chelsea counterpart in the international pecking order.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday lunchtime, Jagielka said: “Ashley has done a fantastic job for England but unfortunately he has a little bit of an injury. A lot of people have said it has been very close fight between those two as to who will start and if Bainesy does play then I’m sure he won’t let us down.

“He’s a fantastic defender and also gives us a fantastic attacking threat down the left.”

Baines’ inclusion will no doubt be music to the ears of England’s fit-again strikers.

Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge are expected to return to the team after injuries prevented them both from featuring in last month’s internationals against Moldova and Ukraine.

The attack-minded Baines has delivered 33 crosses in Everton’s seven Premier League fixtures so far – a figure which dwarfs Cole’s total of six from the same amount of matches.

Victory over Montenegro will put England on the verge of qualification for next summer’s World Cup, and Jagielka added: “It’s important we go out to score goals and win games.

“If you look at the five or six strikers in the squad, Roy has gone very attacking with the players he has picked. It’s very important that we have got the options. We’ve all trained together and they have looked very sharp – I can say from first-hand experience!

“We are delighted to have those two [Rooney and Sturridge] back in but the boys who were here last time did a fantastic job. It’s going to be a big decision for the manager as to who he is going to pick.”

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