Could Cole and Baines play together for England?

Glenn Hoddle has suggested that both left-backs could feature as a unit down the Three Lions’ left flank – a good idea?

With Roy Hodgson looking to decide on personnel, combinations and his starting XI for next summer’s World Cup, a number of players’ fate hangs in the balance.

After back-to-back home defeats to Chile and Germany in recent international friendlies, it is clear that England have work to do ahead of next summer’s tournament in Brazil.

One area of contention is at left-back, with Ashley Cole and Leighton Baines fighting it out for a place in the side’s back four.

However, given the considerable quality of both players, former England boss Glenn Hoddle has suggested playing the pair on the left flank.

“I’d play Baines in front of Cole,” Hoddle said.

“I think we lack a natural left-footer in the last third. I do believe Baines has got more ability than Cole in delivering balls in the last third so they could dovetail and Baines could fill in for Cole.

“I would have a look at that before we go into the World Cup, without a shadow of a doubt.”

The case for playing the pair together certainly stacks up, dependant on the opponent.

Defensively England would have great cover against top attacking sides, with Baines’ ability to track back and help Cole solidifying an area that Germany looked to exploit on Tuesday night.

Going forward, the Everton man is arguably England’s best crosser of a ball, and allowing him to get more involved in the final third than he would be at left-back could be a masterstroke.

A key aspect of the pair’s play would also be the ability to interchange at any point, with Baines able to drop deep to cover should Cole strive forward.

Although the pair are both good ball players, the lack of trickery may well be an issue however, especially against the weaker sides. Having a designated winger on that side could well make England a more direct threat, but again it depends on the strength of the opposition.

image: © p_a_h

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