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Baines pays for his honesty after World Cup snub

Football - England v Mexico International Friendly

While much of the footballing World focused on Theo Walcott's exclusion from the England squad, I for one was still digesting the news that Leighton Baines had somehow missed out too....


I admit that Baines had a poor game in the recent friendly with Mexico. But he wasn't alone in that respect. Indeed his lack of experience should have excused him from the bulk of the criticism when you consider the likes of Michael Carrick, with 22 caps to his name, was just as poor yet finds himself on the plane.

What makes the decision even more bemusing is that his replacment, Stephen Warnock, played no part in England's recent warm-up matches.In fact he has only played five minutes of international football ever.

Had the Aston Villa full back put in an encouraing display against either Japan or Mexico then I would understand Capello's thinking. But he has never shown any indication that Warnock was ahead of Baines in the pecking order until decision day.

The Italian said the performance of the fringe players in the two friendlies led him to stick to the original 23 he had in mind a few weeks ago. But if that is the case why did Baines start against Egypt in March and again against Mexico?

I feel Baines has unfairly paid the price for one poor showing against Mexico while his rival didn't even have to prove his worth. As Martin Samuel of the Mail put it, Warnock was picked because "he wasn't Leighton Baines".

I also believe he has paid for his honesty. In recent inerviews he admitted he suffered from homesickness and that would be a problem in South Africa. Still a harsh reason to exclude someone, especially as he also expressed his delight at working with the England players and how they were helping him to settle in.

Please don't see this as an attack of Warnock's abilites. He is a talented player in his own right and as I hail from the same town as him I am happy a local lad has made it to the biggest stage in football.

But as an Evertonian I feel immense sympathy for Baines, not just for missing out, but for the way it was all handled.