Baines hails 'fantastic' Ashley Cole as he steps into his England place

The full-back looks set to start his first competitive game for the Three Lions in the Chelsea man's absence, over two years after making his debut for the national side

England left-back Leighton Baines has hailed first-choice full-back Ashley Cole, as he replaces him for the Three Lions' upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

After making his international debut two and a half years ago, Baines looks set to finally start his first competitive game in an England shirt.

The Everton defender understands that his joy may well be short lived, however, with Cole expected to return to the side as soon as he is fit.

"Ashley has been fantastic over the years," Baines told reporters. "It has been difficult for anyone to get a look in.

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"The main thing, for club and country, is his consistency. He is one of the first names on the team sheet because he is such a reliable performer. He is an eight out of 10 minimum every week.

"We often depend on him.

"He is someone, for the rest of us, for Ryan [Bertrand] and myself and Kieran Gibbs, who is not in the squad but is a young left-back coming through, to look at and try to learn from."

Cole isn't the only absentee this month, with Wayne Rooney and West Ham striker Andy Carroll also amongst those who are missing, and the Everton man believes the side will rise to the challenge of playing without key men.

"The depth of the squad is going to be tested," said Baines. "There are a lot of players missing but we still have a strong squad and it is well capable of winning these two games."

"We are getting the benefit of Roy [Hodgson]'s experience in preparation now. The structure that he likes to set the team up by.

"The situation before was slightly different because of the changeover of manager before a tournament, which wasn't ideal. Now it starts properly."