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European Qualifiers Group E

Baines: Neville role crucial

Everton defender Leighton Baines has backed Roy Hodgson's decision to include Gary Neville as part of his coaching team.

Last Updated: 15/03/13 at 13:53 Post Comment

Leighton Baines: Supportive of decision to include Gary Neville on England coach

Leighton Baines: Supportive of decision to include Gary Neville on England coach

Neville combines his role as a pundit at Sky Sports with that of England assistant and Baines believes the decision has paid dividends.

Former Manchester United defender Neville won the last of his 85 England caps in a team that also contained current skipper Steven Gerrard, as well as Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe and Ben Foster.

That has helped him connect with the current playing squad according to Baines, as England prepare to face San Marino and Montenegro in back-to-back Word Cup qualifiers.

"It was a wise move to bring him in," said Baines.

"Gary didn't have a lot of experience in coaching but he had a ton of it from playing at the top level, playing in huge matches for club and country and working with top managers.

"You can't buy things like that.

"He is obviously a football man who thinks a lot about the game. All the players can go to him with any kind of problem and he can draw on his own experience."

Baines is included in the squad for the two qualifiers away from home, with a game against lowly San Marino on Friday followed by a trip to Montenegro four days later.

England's 2-1 friendly win over Brazil in February was one of only two fixtures this season that Baines has not started, with Ashley Cole starting ahead of him and earning his 100th international cap.

But Baines admits he has enjoyed the last year of his career as he has forced his way into Hodgson's plans.

"It has been a positive 12 months for me," he added.

"I have been involved more and got more game time. I am in as good a place as I have been in international football.

"I was 25 when I first came into the England squad. Maybe it took me a bit of time to accumulate any experience, or get any kind of caps just because there is such a good player in the same position as me.

"But I just try and do my own thing. The rest is down to the manager."

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