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Baines Earns Start

Left-back lines up against San Marino, Osman named on bench.

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Leighton Baines was handed his 15th international cap with a place in Friday evening's starting line-up for England in San Marino.

In the build-up to the contest, there was much discussion as ever over the left-back's battle with Chelsea's Ashley Cole for possession of his country's number three jersey.

And reporters travelling with the Three Lions party were expecting the Everton man to get the nod against the European minnows, a team who sit joint last in the FIFA rankings alongside Bhutan and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

But England then face group leaders Montenegro on Tuesday evening, with manager Roy Hodgson's choice at left-back in that game the real acid test of his way of thinking.

Baines told evertontv: “They are both big games but the second one against Montenegro is important because of the group standings and where it is. We’ve got to get the job done against San Marino but people will rightly expect us to do that.

"We expect to get that job done. The next one [Montenegro] is the big one really.”

Leon Osman is the second Everton player in the England party and Baines insists his clubmate is well worthy of adding to his solitary international cap in the forthcoming qualifiers.

“He’s been amazing for us, this season especially," declared Baines. "Every season he is great and when we went down to 10 men against Manchester City last weekend he went and played like two or three players. He deserves to be in there and there can’t be anyone who has been playing better than him that I can think of.

"He deserves the call up and hopefully he will get a game.”

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