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Baines unfazed by prospect of 18,000 Poland fans for crucial England qualifier

The full-back will deputise for the injured Ashley Cole for the crucial Group H fixture and is looking forward to experiencing a competitive atmosphere at Wembley

Everton and England left-back Leighton Baines insists that he will not be fazed by the 18,000-strong Polish following present at Wembley for Tuesday's decisive World Cup qualifier.

The Football Association has given Poland supporters an extra 10,000 tickets on top of the original 8,000 allocation in an attempt to stop visiting fans purchasing seats among their English counterparts. It will be the biggest away following at an England match at the new Wembley, dwarfing the numbers brought by Ghana, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland in recent years.

The increased number of away supporters is sure to create a competitive atmosphere in the stands but Baines does not think that it will have any bearing on the England players' performances as they go in search of the victory which would seal their passage to the World Cup.

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"If it adds to the atmosphere it is great," he told reporters. "When we played Ghana they were amazing and it just made it better. If these away fans add to the atmosphere the home fans are going to produce, then it just adds to the occasion.

"It could [give Poland a boost] but, to put a more positive spin on it, you'd rather play in a stadium with a good atmosphere, rather than it be a half-empty stadium."

FA spokesman Scott Field defended the decision, explaining: "With high demand for tickets from the large Polish community in England, the FA took the decision, based on safety grounds, to ensure Polish fans were allocated space in a specific area of the ground, rather than attempting to buy tickets in home areas.

"Tickets in the home areas have been restricted to previous buyers only, with no tickets now remaining for this fixture. This is the same process that was employed for the successful Scotland and Republic of Ireland fixtures earlier this year."

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