The Everton left-back has enjoyed another fruitful domestic campaign, helping his side into Europe, and is set to start for the Three Lions in Brazil this summerAs expected, Leighton Baines made England's World Cup squad and heads to Brazil likely to start for Roy Hodgson to crown another excellent domestic season.
Hodgson has shown faith in the Everton defender since taking the reigns in 2010 and, provided that he is fit, Baines will add to his 22 caps in Manaus. Goal takes a look at how he is shaping up ahead of this summer's bonanza.
|SEASON 2013-14 ANALYSIS
After David Moyes moved to Manchester United, there was a strong belief and plenty of expectation that the Evertonian would follow the Scot to Old Trafford. After weeks of speculation, it came as some surprise that the left-back remained at Goodison Park but it proved to be an inspired decision as the Toffees ended the year above United.
For Baines, it was a case of 'more of the same' as he embraced his more advanced role in Roberto Martinez's 3-5-2 formation while maintaining his standards in a standard four-man defence.
His output in the final third remains impressive for a full-back and he gave a hint of things to come with a pair of stunning free kicks in a September win at West Ham. Six goals over the course of the season was an impressive return for a player who averages four a year at Everton.
Though ankle trouble forced him to miss six games in December, Baines was consistent over the course of the campaign, also picking up five assists and 13 clean sheets in the 32 games that he played in the Premier League and, although the Toffees fell just short of the top four, there is much on which to build - especially with Baines choosing to stay at the club.
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Though it was never verified, there was a belief at the time - garnered from a comments which Baines felt were 'misconstrued' - that he was excluded because he suggested that he would be homesick in South Africa.
Baines picked up 16 caps for the Under-21s, scoring once in a European Championship play-off against Germany. That goal helped push Peter Taylor's team past the Germans and into Euro 2007, where they would meet the hosts Netherlands in the semi-finals.
Unfortunately, Baines was substituted by the time penalties arrived and therefore missed the epic 13-12 spot-kick loss to the Dutch.
|LIKELY ROLE IN THE SQUAD
Given Ashley Cole's omission from the squad, it is safe to assume that Baines will be England's starting left-back.
Southampton's Luke Shaw is an exciting prospect and may well be used as an impact substitute but it is highly unlikely that the pragmatic Roy Hodgson will throw his many young prospects in at the deep end - particularly in the opener against Italy.
Baines has also been handed the No.3 shirt and, at 28 years of age, feels like Hodgson's undoubted first-choice. Recent international performances under Hodgson have been promising, though he has yet to firmly stamp his mark on the world stage. His ability from a dead ball and astute defensive instincts should provide the platform to leave a telling impact in Brazil.