Baines: Competition for left-back spot with Ashley Cole is good for England

Leighton Baines has admitted it is proving tough to become an England regular but says having strong options is a good headache for Roy Hodgson.

The Everton defender has been in terrific form this term with the Toffees boasting the joint-third meanest defence in the Premier League, with only Chelsea and Manchester City having better records.

The Englishman has also contributed five goals and two assists to the cause, including a stunning strike against West Brom on Wednesday night as part of his match-winning double.

Baines has been included in the England squad for the friendly against Brazil but may find himself on the bench, with Ashley Cole in line to earn his 100th cap at Wembley, but the 28-year-old indicated he respects whatever decision Hodgson makes.

“I’m doing what I can my end to get into the England team but the decision isn’t mine,” he told the Daily Mail. “It’s with the manager.

“Myself and Ashley are regulars in the squad, but there’s also Ryan Bertrand, Kieran Gibbs has had a great season and Luke Shaw at Southampton is going to be a fine player.

“The good thing for England is that there are a number of options. If it’s ever been a problem in the past, when there has only been one strong option, I don’t think that’s the case anymore.”

Following the 2-1 win over the Baggies, David Moyes’ men have lost just once in their last 12 league fixtures, taking points from Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham in that period.

The club now sit in fifth place in the league table, and are pushing for the Champions League spots, with Baines hopeful that they can maintain their top-four chasing form against Aston Villa on Saturday.

“Villa might not be doing so well but you can’t underestimate anyone particularly in this league, as it has thrown up some strange results this season,” he continued.

“Villa have been struggling for a little bit now, but we know they will be fighting and we’ll have to be on our game.

“We have some big games away from home still to come, so these home games are the ones that we have got to be winning.

“We don’t want to be dropping points in home games because it will be put extra importance on the tough away games. The onus is on us when we play at Goodison.

“We all want to get into the top four. In different weeks, different players will come to the fore. That’s how it has been for us all season. On Wednesday I got a couple of goals, but the important thing is that somebody does it. In the main, we have done that.”

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