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Koeman happy with Baines’ performances so far

Veteran left back remains a key part of the Everton squad

Chelsea v Everton - Premier League
Leighton Baines
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Leighton Baines has gotten off to a quiet but solid start to the Everton season, and it has not escaped the gaze of manager Ronald Koeman. Speaking to evertontv during the international break, the manager has expressed his satisfaction with the fullback so far.

Baines has started in all seven competitive games for the Blues so far, proving equally adaptable to both the four-man backline and the five-man defensive formation that Koeman has used this season.

“I am really happy with Leighton’s performances. He has shown really good fitness from the start of the season and he is playing well.

“He is quiet, but he is doing his role, fulfilling his function in the team as our attacking left full-back.

“I have been really pleased with the level he has been showing in the opening weeks of the season.”

In addition, with the departure of Gareth Barry he is now the Toffees’ deputy captain behind Phil Jagielka, wearing the armband when the center half is not on the pitch. As Everton’s oldest serving player at the moment, the honour is well deserved.

Everton FC v VfL Wolfsburg - UEFA Europa League
Baines scoring against Wolfsburg in the Europa League back in 2014
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

The veteran defender has decided that he wouldn’t consider an international call-up even if Gareth Southgate came knocking, choosing to devote his time and energies to the Toffees. The current international break gave him a chance to catch his breath following a run of five full games in sixteen days including three consecutive away.

“It is a good chance to do that, of course. It is good for those who are not involved in international games to have some days off.

“This is a tough period and it was a really tough week before the break, with the three away games (at Manchester City, Hajduk Split and Chelsea), so now they need to recover and relax.

“Leighton knows he can be one of the captains. If Phil is not starting, then he is our deputy now Gareth Barry has left for West Brom.

“It is normal for him – it is not more pressure. He is a boy from Everton who has been at the Club for a long time. He has done it before and he has the experience to be the captain for us. It is really good to have that.”

With the Blues choosing to not bring in a back up for Baines during the just-ended transfer window, Koeman is going to need the 32-year-old rested and recovered for another crucial stretch of games coming up, including Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, as well as kicking off the Europa League group stages in just over a week.