Football Mysteries: Why Isn’t Leighton Baines England’s No.2 Left-Back?

Ollie Irish

12th, February 2010


By Ollie Irish


Leighton Baines made a slow start to his Everton career after signing from Wigan in 2007, but this season he’s been terrific, exactly the sort of all-action left-back you want. His link-up play with the likes of Steven Pienaar has been vital to Everton’s climb back up the table.

So why isn’t Baines more highly regarded by the England set-up? He should now be established as England’s second-choice left-back, behind Ashley Cole and definitely ahead of Wayne Bridge and other candidates (Gibbs, Warnock et al).

Is it because he’s too small (Roberto Carlos didn’t do so badly)? Or perhaps it’s his unfashionable face, which gives him the look of a young private in the British army, circa 1944? Or it could be because he’s too nice – no tabloid dirt = dull.

Whatever, he can defend and attack and he works like a terrier at both. He’s also an honest player, which Capello is rather short of at the moment.

David Moyes today backed Baines for England, saying: “I think the England left-backs will be Ashley Cole and Wayne Bridge and then I think it is toss-up between Stephen Warnock and Leighton Baines. I think Bainesy on his day is a match for any of them, and I know Fabio Capello knows about him.”

I think Moyes is probably right though, and as much as I like Warnock, I rate Baines slightly above him. With all English LBs fit, I’d take Ashley Cole, Leighton Baines and Kieran Gibbs. In that order.

As it is, I predict Capello won’t even take three authentic LBs to South Africa, not if he has Joleon Lescott, Gareth Barry and James Milner in the squad.


Posted in Everton, International football, Opinion, World Cup

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  1. Peter says:

    Is Jagielka still injured? If he comes back in time for the last few weeks of Premier League, he should be considered for the World Cup. He could play anywhere along the back four, midfield, upfront, even in goal!

  2. Danny says:

    Jags is still out for up to a month mate. Apparantly he has only just started running again after 1 or 2 set backs to his original injury.

    I may be slightly biased being an Everton fan but i agree with you Olly. It is a mystery as to why Baines has been ignored for so long. He is a great defender and really loves getting up the line providing some brilliant balls into the box which have been very helpful to Everton’s score sheet this season… He also knows how to bang away a penalty too, we could probably do with that in the world cup haha!

    He should get the call against Egypt and should be given at least one half to show what he is about!

  3. Ed says:

    Wayne Bridge had been absolutely horrendous this year and in his last few England appearances too. However, there is something to be said for experience, and I think if Ashley Cole is unavailable for the squad, Bridge should travel as deputy to either Baines or Warnock. If Cole is available, it should be either Baines or Warnock who travel as his replacement option.

    I wouldn’t consider Gibbs at the moment due to his age; he still has a tendency to make mistakes that can be costly and frankly, in Baines and Warnock we have two better options anyway.

    As for the debate between Warnock and Baines, I currently would have Stephen Warnock ahead as I feel his tackling and positioning are better, and his performances this season have been nothing short of fantastic. Baines is also a tremendous player and I wouldn’t tie my support to one of them just yet. Warnock is out until the end of the month, so Baines now has a real opportunity to stand out.

    There’s still some time before the squad need be announced, and as far as I’m concerned it should be considered a straight race between Warnock and Baines for the place available.

    May the better player go.

  4. Johnny MCFC says:

    I hate to say it (mainly cos I’m a City fan) but Baines is a much better player than Bridge. I saw him against Chelsea the other night and he was exceptional. He was also unbelievably good against us the other week, when Everton won 2-0. I agree with Ollie Irish – it’s a complete mystery why Baines isn’t England’s no.2 left-back.

  5. The Truth says:

    Gibbs!! Ye retard.

  6. Barney says:

    I think all the talk about Bridge at the moment as deputy, is for the press to talk up the Terry incident again, and also a big sympathy vote for Bridge. These things happen in life all the time. He doesn’t need sympathy.

  7. Delboy Dublin says:

    Kieran Gibbs ahead of Warnock is gibberish (see what I did there?!)

  8. Philosophy Monster says:

    It should be Baines, and good wordplay Delboy, you could write headlines for the Sun with that punnery.

  9. Steve says:

    Warnocks better thats why

  10. paddy says:

    Cole (if hes fit) and baines. give Gibbs a year or two and wayne bridge is just shit

  11. jordan says:

    is gibbs not out for the rest of the season?

  12. Dave says:

    The answer is simple……He dosent play for one of the sky four.

  13. Ben says:

    I think the reason is that Cole is so far ahead of the rest that they’ve not been tried out for England. If there was no Cole, Bridge would have been exposed as the average defender he is a long time ago and, in all probability, either Baines or Warnock would be England’s first choice.

  14. Joe says:

    Not an Everton fan, but agree 1 million percent. I’ve had a soft spot for Baines ever since he scored that 50-yard sceamer against Germany U-21. Much rather have him on board than the that mercenary Bridge or the Ubertw*t (Cole), though I admit the latter is a bit better defensively. Have we all forgotten that Bridge was a major part of the worst England back 5 in history (v Croatia at Wembley, when he, Carson, Lescott, Campbell and Richards were to blame for the two very soft goals that cost us a spot in the Alps)?

  15. smithy says:

    gibbs? seriously, u must be a closet arsenal fan

  16. Greg says:

    “Why Isn’t Leighton Baines England’s No.2 Left-Back?”
    Because he spent a big chunk of his Everton career on the subs bench (due to get a game at left back due to an average, yet astonishingly expensive, centre back being picked ahead of him), and Stephen Warnock is much better anyway.

  17. mac says:

    ” “Why Isn’t Leighton Baines England’s No.2 Left-Back?”
    Because he spent a big chunk of his Everton career on the subs bench (due to get a game at left back due to an average, yet astonishingly expensive, centre back being picked ahead of him), and Stephen Warnock is much better anyway. ”

    Lescott was playing at LB at the start of his Everton career, wasn’t anythin special, he’s only known to anyone because he scored alot of goals (playing CB), but people seem to think he spent his entire time at LB!

    Baines came in and hasn’t let anybody down since he found his form at the start of last season!

    Baines is the 2nd best LB in the Prem and better than Warnock who I do think is a very very good player

  18. Chris Gore says:

    I’d have to agree with the majority of the comments so far. However, I take issue with the headline as I would suggest that LB is actually England’s No.1 left back.

    Have had a soft spot for him ever since he joined Everton. Definitely my favourite player at the moment.

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