England defender Leighton Baines has revealed that his axing from Fabio Capello’s World Cup squad has motivated him to produce the best form of his career.
The Everton full-back is full of confidence ahead of Sunday afternoon's Merseyside derby against Liverpool at Anfield, and will look to show his class after being wrongly accused of homesickness worries in the summer.
Baines claims that the snub has toughened him up as a player, suggesting that it was possibly a poor pre-World Cup game that convinced Capello to axe him from the squad, but that has since risen to the challenge and tried to learn from the experience.
"I took stock after what happened with England and felt I needed to be bolder in future," said Baines.
"I'd go away with England and look at everyone else and think how natural it seemed to them.
"I'm not too sure why it happened," he added.
"I'd like to think it was because I had a poor game in the pre-World Cup friendly.
"I tried to be a part of it but the next time I will be more assertive.
"You just keep doing what you do and try your best and hope you're invited back."
The 26-year-old has claimed that Capello’s decision to axe him from the squad has pushed him into winning ways.
"This season I have wanted to show that in my performances.
"What happened last summer was a setback but I've responded. The next England game is a friendly so I keep hoping to get back but I've not been included this season so it's difficult.
"My form last season was OK, in the one England game it was poor.
"It seems I said the wrong thing at the wrong time.
"I didn't say anything about homesickness. I spoke to one guy after the game and pointed out I had my family with me.
"We were going to have a day with the family and go to camp the next day. I said I wanted to spend a bit of time with them and the hardest part of being a player is spending time away.
"It was jumped on and taken out of context. I should have been safer and said nothing.”