What The Papers Say - 14 October
It's all Baines and Cole in today's paper round-up.
The views on this page are taken from the local and national media and do not necessarily reflect the views of Everton.
LEIGHTON BAINES strode out of the Wembley dressing room to the team bus shoulder-to-shoulder with Ashley Cole.
Pals chewing the fat - but fierce rivals for the England left-back berth with Cole seriously close to a memorable milestone in his international career.
Cole is still two caps short of his 100th for his country and will hope Roy Hodgson gives him No.99 against Poland in England's World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.
But while Baines, 27, would be the first to applaud the Chelsea star for hitting the ton, he's in no hurry to hand over the shirt.
It fits him well - as demonstrated by his performance against San Marino - and England appearance No.13 against the Poles won't be unlucky for the Everton defender.
Baines' days as understudy to Cole look numbered but he wasn't comfortable joining in that debate.
He said: "Who knows? I'm not sure. I will just keep playing as well as I can. I don't want to get drawn into making comments on things like that.
"Ashley is a terrific player but in the games I have played I have shown I can come in and do a job as well. It's nice to hold on to the shirt.
"You want to play so the more games you do play the happier you are. I have started the last few games so I'm very happy.
"Of course I want more of this. It's natural. Everyone wants to play so getting the games recently has been nice.
Ashley has deserved every one of his caps and hopefully he will reach the 100 mark because he deserves it. All I can do is play as well as I can for Everton and that's all I'm focused on.
"Ashley is a top player and he will get to his milestone.
"But I am comfortable in the squad. I have been in the last few years and feel part of it.
"It doesn't feel any different to how I have been playing for the last two or three years.
"Over the course of a season your form level will ebb and flow a bit.
"It's done that already. I have had a couple of games where I have not played as well as in others.
"I don't know if I'm in the best form of my career.
"But I have been enjoying playing. We have been doing well at club level, picked up some good results and it's been fun."
Now Baines will wait for Hodgson to make his mind up on what is now a left-back dilemma for the England boss. Cole wants to make history, Baines wants to create a dynasty of his own.
Kirkby-born Baines came through the Wigan youth system and made his debut at 17.He became a regular in the England Under-21s set-up and played 162 times for the Latics.
He joined Everton for £5million a few days before the start of the 2007 season. He was called into the England squad by Fabio Capello the following season and earned his first cap in 2010 in a 3-1 win over Egypt.
He missed out on the World Cup in South Africa and travelled to Euro 2012 but didn't get a game.
He has started all three World Cup qualifiers this season and scored his first international goal against Moldova.
Baines would relish the chance to defend England's cause against Poland and is only too aware of the difficulty of the clash.
He added: "It is completely different.
"Without being disrespectful, San Marino are not quite up to the standard of the majority of sides at this level.
"It's a different entity when you have a side like this but it's just about getting the job done and getting the game won - and we have done that.
"We know Poland are a much better side - a really good team with some good players. It will be hostile, too.
"It's a passionate place for football.
"We have spent a good bit of time out there in the Euros and the stadiums and infrastructure are all in place in Poland."
Leighton Baines admits he is ready to battle Ashley Cole for the England left-back role and feels he is good enough to be a regular under Roy Hodgson.
Baines has waited patiently for his chance as Cole has closed in on 100 caps.
But the Chelsea defender's relationship with the England hierarchy has been affected by his Twitter outburst against the Football Association, which led to him being charged.
Cole was left on the bench for the 5-0 win over San Marino on Friday and Baines showed again he is good enough to compete on the international stage.
Cole will probably regain his place against Poland on Tuesday but Baines says he is ready to do everything to show Hodgson he should be first-choice left-back.
Baines said: ‘Ashley is a terrific player but in the games I've played I've shown I can come in and do a job as well.
‘Of course you want to play more. All I can do is play as well as I can for Everton, and that's all I'm focused on.
‘I'll just keep playing as well as I can.'
Leighton Baines is too nice a bloke to say so outright, but he wants that shirt - sooner rather than later.
Cole is generally regarded as one of the best left-backs England has produced for many years and, injuries permitting, he will top that 100-caps landmark.
But he will be 32 in December, and the big question now is: Who will be wearing that England left-back shirt if we do make it to the World Cup finals in 2014 - Cole or Baines?
Baines, 27, put another marker down on Friday against San Marino, even though the minnows he faced would struggle in the Blue Square Conference never mind against England.
Baines, like his Everton team-mates, has started this season like an express train. And although he is likely to be on the England bench again in Poland on Tuesday, Cole has good reason to be looking over his shoulder.
Baines is gracious in his acknowledgement of what Cole has achieved and genuinely believes the Chelsea star deserves 100 caps.
He said: "Ashley is a terrific player and I'm sure he will get to the milestone. But in the games I've played I've shown I can come in and do a job as well. And I've started the last few games and I'm very happy with that."
Does he want that shirt off Cole's back?
"It would be nice eventually," he admitted. "The more games you play, the happier you are and it's natural to want more of this. Everyone wants to play, so getting the games recently has been nice."
Baines would not be drawn on whether his days as Cole's understudy might soon be over."Who knows? I'm not sure," he added. "I'll just keep playing as well as I can and see what develops.
"I'm comfortable in the squad. I've been in for the last few years and feel part of it, and it doesn't feel any different to how I've been playing for the last two or three years.
"We've been doing well back at the club, picked up some good results and it's been fun." But Baines, like the rest of his England team-mates, is under no illusions that Tuesday night in Poland is going to be a very different kettle of fish from the Wembley walkabout against San Marino.
"Friday night was something you are not accustomed to at this level," he admitted.
"Without being disrespectful, San Marino were not quite up to the standard of the majority of the sides at this level.
"It is a different entity when you play a side like this but it is just about getting the job done and getting the game won, and we did that."
No one, however, is expecting Poland in their own back yard to be as easy as facing San Marino.
"We know they are a much better side, a really good team with some good players," said Baines.
"It will be a hostile atmosphere and a big challenge for the younger players. It is a passionate place for football.
"We've just spent a good bit of time out there in the Euros and the stadiums and infrastructure is all in place for Poland."
Baines also acknowledges that it will probably be an even bigger night for his Everton team-mate Phil Jagielka, whose grandparents were born in Poland.
"It will be a big occasion for him and his family," he added.