The England National team has a lot of problem areas that manager Roy Hodgson should be concerned with, but the left fullback position is not one of them.
England officially qualified for the World Cup, and the biggest question being asked is, who will be the first choice leftback for England? It is the position with the fewest questions in terms of quality, because Ashley Cole and Leighton Baines are world-class players and two of the best fullbacks in the world.
Cole may be the best defensive fullback in the world; the Chelsea star has pace, strength and is tremendous in one-on-one situations. Baines is not quite as good as a defender, but many argue that he is a more complete player. The Everton star excels in the attacking third of the pitch and is supremely gifted technically, equipped with one of the deadliest crosses in the game. They are, without a doubt, the two best fullbacks in the English Premier League, including the rightbacks.
Cole has surpassed the century mark in caps for England and unintentionally has hindered the inclusion of Baines. To me, the question isn’t who should play between Cole and Bale, but rather who else shouldn’t be playing in place of them. They both are easily among the top 11 players in the squad. Good managers find a creative way to get the best players out there on the pitch. Spain does it all the time when they play a midfielder in a false No. 9 role in an effort to put the best players on the pitch.
Baines is more than skilled enough to take up a wide left midfield or left wing role in the England setup. Are Raheem Sterling, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlian, Ashley Young and others who occupy the left side of the midfield for England a better option than playing Baines?
It’s a rhetorical question, because everyone knows the answer. The real question is, does Hodgson have the guts to play Cole and Baines at the same time? I guess we will have to wait until the World Cup to get the answer.