Baines Eyes England Start
Leighton Baines on his battle to become an England starter.
Leighton Baines is prepared to be patient in his battle to become a regular starter for his country.
The Blues' left-back has been in scintillating form so far this term - carrying on from last season.
But whilst he started for England in their last outing against Ukraine at Wembley last month, he is not taking anything for granted ahead of Friday's contest with San Marino.
There is fierce competition for the left-back slot, with Ashley Cole in pole position to start on Friday night despite the media circus that has surrounded the Chelsea defender in the last week.
Baines told evertontv: "I've been trying to keep my form up at club level between the two international breaks.
"The competition for places is just the way it is. It's something you just have to accept. You respect the players in the squad and the others players who are in your position that much that you know you may not play.
"All you can always do is do the best you can for your club and that's what I've been trying to do."
Baines has proved to be one of the most consistent performers in the Premier League in recent seasons.
Cole is available for selection after having apologised to FA Chairman David Bernstein for an offensive tweet posted last week and England boss Roy Hodgson has hinted the Chelsea man remains his number one choice at left-back.
Speaking at yesterday's press conference, Hodgson said: "I think the important matter for me was that the situation got resolved between the Football Association and Ashley himself. He's made it very clear he regretted it, he did it in anger, he immediately tried to rectify his mistake, he certainly publicly apologised for it.
"We're talking about a man who's played 98 times and has hardly ever missed a game for England when he's been fit.
"He's been regarded for many years as the best left-back in the world and no one who is fair minded could ever criticise Ashley's commitment to the England shirt. As a result his contrition is the greater because he realises that to some extent he might have put his position in jeopardy and I'm very happy that he hasn't done that."
Baines' form has certainly been catching the eye of opposition defenders, with Wigan captain Gary Caldwell lauding the left-back's display in last weekend's 2-2 draw at the DW Stadium.
He said: "Without a doubt, [Baines] is the best left-back in the Premier League. He's the one player in their team you would target. When you look at their team and the left-back is their most attacking player, that shows he must be doing something right."