Baines: England Are Ready
Full-back says Three Lions team spirit is highest he's known.
Leighton Baines believes the team spirit in the England camp is more reminiscent of a club side than an international group.
The Everton defender joined up with the rest of the Three Lions squad in mid-May as they readied themselves for the World Cup.
After several flights since, England are now located in Manaus for their first game against Italy on Saturday - and Baines says confidence is high.
He said: "For the time I’ve been involved with England, this is as good a group as there’s been.
"There’s a really good spirit throughout the camp and part of that is probably down to the preparation we’ve been doing.
"We’ve been working hard but have obviously been spending a few weeks together that has enabled us to get that kind of club feel to the international set-up.
"It’s great to get down here to Manaus and it puts us closer to being in match mode. It’s exciting."
Ahead of Saturday's group opener, England have been put through meticulous tournament build-up.
A send-off at Wembley against Peru came before games against Ecuador and Honduras in the United States.
The climate adjustment went up a notch again with touchdown in Brazil.
And despite the intensity of conditions, Baines says Roy Hodgson's men are in good shape to face the Azzurri.
"I don’t think our preparations could have gone much better to be honest," he said. "It’s been really enjoyable, we’ve got some really good work in and spent some good time together.
"The preparation in terms of the heat and the opponents has been really good."
Ross Barkley is fighting for a starting place in midfield in Manaus, but Baines is almost certain to line up alongside Club skipper Phil Jagielka at the back.
And the defender cannot speak highly enough of his fellow Blues.
"Jags has been unbelievable for us as a Club," he said. "He’s our captain and has been amazing over the years, he just gets on with his job.
"He’s the type of player we always trust if we’re on attack and it breaks down and you see someone coming up against him, you would always back him in any situation like that. He’s a terrific defender.
"Ross, we’re starting to see him develop and it’s exciting to watch him grow. He’s one of the exciting players we’ve got in the squad. He can produce something out of nothing and get people off their seats."