Everton Lion Leighton Baines has revealed the positive atmosphere surrounding the England set-up in Brazil has given the camp a real club feel
Everton and England full-back Leighton Baines believes the spirit in the England camp is the best he’s ever experienced.
Speaking to FA.Com on the eve of England’s World Cup opener against Italy in Manaus, The 29-year old Kirkby born defender is certain the pre-tournament work the players have put in, in Portugal and Miami, will stand them in good stead for the extreme Amazonian conditions.
But perhaps more importantly, Leighton Baines believes the four weeks the squad has spent together has enabled the players to build a club feel throughout the squad.
“I don’t think it could have gone much better to be honest,” Baines said.
“It’s been really enjoyable, we’ve got some really good work in and spent some good time together.”
“The preparation in terms of the heat and the opponents has been excellent.
“For the time I’ve been involved with England, this is as good a group as there has been. There’s a really good spirit throughout the camp and part of that is probably down to the preparation we’ve been doing,” said the attacking full-back.
“We’ve been working hard but have obviously been spending a few weeks together that has enabled us to get that kind of club feel to the international set-up.”
Leighton Baines missed out on the England squad in 2010 as Fabio Cappello, amidst unfounded rumours the Everton defender could suffer from homesickness, plumped instead for the then Aston Villa left-back Stephen Warnock.
However, four years on and with team mates Phil Jagielka and Ross Barkley along for the World Cup adventure, Leighton Baines is treating Brazil as a home-from-home.
“We’ve had a good reception [in Rio and in Manaus],” said England’s first choice left-back.
“It was about three and half hours flight down to Manaus [from Rio] and after arriving here at the hotel we had a bit of work on the bikes to get the journey out of our legs before we watched the Brazil v Croatia game.
It’s great to be here [in Manaus] and it puts us closer to being in match mode. It’s exciting.”
With all the hard work behind them he is now looking forward to lining up alongside Everton club captain Phil Jagielka in the England defence. As for Ross Barkley, Baines is certain the Everton wonderkid is about to take the tournament by storm.
“We know plenty about Jags because he’s been around a lot longer then Ross,” explained Baines.
“He’s unbelievable for us as a club, he’s our captain and has been amazing over the years. He just gets on with his job.”
“He’s the type of player we always trust if we are attacking and it breaks down, and you see someone coming up against him, you would always back him in that situation. He’s a terrific defender.”
“We are starting to see Ross [Barkley] develop and it’s exciting to watch him grow. He’s one of the exciting players we have in the squad. Whether he comes on in games or he starts, he can produce something out of nothing and get people off their seats.”
Now, with all the talking done, it is time for Leighton Baines and his team mates to focus on the immediate task ahead; facing Italy in an opening group game of the World Cup.
“We are looking at Italy at preparing for what they may have, but we are focusing more on what we can do,” revealed Baines.
“I think they’ll be doing similar things. There will be a lot of players in our squad they’ll be doing their homework on and trying to make sure they have ideas on how to stop them.
“You know what to expect from Italy, they are one of the top sides in the world, full of good footballers and they have tended to play in a certain style for years so we’ve been preparing for that,” added Baines.
“We are looking forward to the game. There has been a lot of talk about the weather but I don’t think there is anyone who is really going to get an advantage. It will be more or less the same for both sides.”