Leighton Baines says he is ready to push Lucas Digne for the Everton left-back position next season.
Baines has ended speculation about his future by signing a new one-year contract to extend his Goodison career into a 13th season.
The 34-year-old is likely to play a supporting role behind Digne, who ended his impressive debut campaign at Goodison Park with the Player of the Season award.
Baines, a regular in the Toffees team for more than decade, has no issue with his new role as understudy and will be ready to help the team whenever required.
Speaking to the club’s official website, Baines said:
“I just come in and do my work every day. It is your own personal pride so you do not want to slack off.
“You are not going to succeed by accident. I will do that work to try to push Lucas.
“He has plenty of experience. He has been at massive clubs, he plays regular football and plays for his country.
“I enjoy watching him. He is great to watch; full of energy and good quality.
“I think Lucas he will go on and do even better. I look forward to seeing that progress.”`
“He doesn’t need me. But if he does, I will be here.”
Baines also hinted that he is beginning to eye the future beyond his playing days.
As one of the older players in the squad, who has been a model professional through his career, he is aware of his responsibility to set an example to the younger players.
The former England international says he is ready to impart his advice to the younger squad members should they need it.
“You try to bring consistency in terms of your work every day when you walk through the door.
“You get to a stage in your career – particularly if you are not playing – when you have a bit more to give on that side of things.
“I try to come in conscious of what different people need and the support. Then outside that, you have to do your work and train well – go in the gym and do all the right things to give yourself a chance.
“You know if any of the younger players – without you even knowing – are looking to you, you are setting the right example.”