Easily one of the most consistent England National players over the last decade, Ashley Cole is suddenly hearing calls for his phasing out as the Three Lions’ first choice left back.
The only thing is, he’s done absolutely nothing to deserve a demotion. Over the past year we’ve seen him feature positively in England’s recent Euro run and maintain an unrelentingly steady form for a Chelsea club that has encountered more than it’s fair share of Abramovich-created chaos. So why the sudden longing to put his international career out to pasture? Shouldn’t England be worrying about pretty much every other position besides left back?
Well, yeah, probably… but then again, it’s pretty hard to ignore this.
And that kind of dynamic play has been the rule for Leighton Baines this season. Already tallying 5 goals and 2 assists from the left back position, he’s combined brilliantly with Steven Pienaar and added some serious overlapping bite to Everton’s left side attack.
All the while, he’s managed to successfully preserve his defensive responsibilities too, continuously shutting down the opposition’s right wing attack and helping Everton concede the third fewest goals (so far) this season. He’s been nothing short of transcendent, and as steady as Ashley Cole has been, he deserves an extended opportunity at the international level.
Of course, having more than one gifted left-footed player is never a bad thing, so maybe there is a way Baines and Cole could co-exist on England’s left flank. After all, both are more than capable of joining in an attack and fulfilling an outside midfielder’s duties. We saw some creativity (and even some success) from Brendan Rodgers in his handling of Stewart Downing and Jose Enrique for Liverpool this year, so a similar experiment for England is not outside the realm of possibility (assuming Roy Hodgson decides to do something unconventional for a change).
In any case, having to select a left back from two quality, probably even world class, options? That’s a luxury. Having Gerrard and Lampard on the wrong side of 31 and no immediate solution for the central midfield? Now, that’s a problem.
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