Arguably, England have the best choice of left-backs in Europe currently. The fight for that position has heated up for the first time in over a decade, as Leighton Baines finally provides Ashley Cole with some real competition. But who is the first choice as England look towards a potential World Cup campaign in 2014?
As stated, it has been around 10 years now of Cole’s dominance in an England shirt at left-back. Having now experienced over 100 caps for his nation, he finds him self in a position where he no longer the obvious favourite. We have seen Everton‘s Baines emerge over the past few seasons, but not to the heights which he is at now.
In these October qualifiers, the choice has been made for Roy Hodgson due to Cole’s rib injury; but in the upcoming games over the next year, it will be a tight choice.
So the question is who? Cole’s defensive qualities are obvious. He reads the game exceptionally and has on many occasions been the standout performer in the England back-line. He has been consistent for quite some time and when England have failed, little blame has been given to him. But despite that, Baines is now arguably the better option.
At 28, he is four years younger than Cole, so he has time on his side. But, his attacking qualities that now mean he is potentially a better fit in the England side. As we all know, his set-piece ability speaks for it self — with that in your side, you always have a chance of scoring. His ability to consistently pick out a perfect cross every time is unique. It is the best delivery of a ball from the wings that England have seen since David Beckham was in his peak.
Although Cole has the experience and the qualities that still make him a great left back, I start to wonder if Baines is the better option. England have lacked a creative spark at times, but with Baines, they have another option to find goals. It will be a difficult choice, but with these two backed up by Arsenal‘s in-form Kieran Gibbs, England can be confident that whoever is their left back is a very good fit.