Boss Hails Baines' Contribution

by Mike Taylor
@Everton

Ronald Koeman has hailed the importance of Leighton Baines - on and off the pitch - as the full-back bids to make his 300th Premier League appearance for Everton.

After missing nearly two months with an ankle injury earlier in the season, Baines, who was signed from Wigan Athletic in the summer of 2007, has started each of the last 15 games for the Blues.

And manager Koeman has praised the ability and form of the Kirkby-born defender as he closes in on a triple century of league appearances for the Club.

“He’s really important,” said Koeman. “It’s always a difficult position in the team, the left full-back position. Not all the teams have the real top quality in that position - there are some right-footed players. 

“We are really lucky to have Leighton at a good level and at good fitness. He’s been one of the best players in the last few games.

“I like to play out of offensive positions with the full-backs, so players like Leighton and Seamus Coleman are really the type of players that I like.”

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Now 32, Baines is a senior figure in the dressing room and has helped some of the Club’s young stars cope with the demands of making the testing step up to first-team football.

Koeman added: “I like him as a player and as a person as well. He’s really disciplined in the team and is involved in everything with Everton. 

“He is important for younger players. He’s that professional player you want in the team as a manager.”

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