Baines: There is competition for every place in the team

Everton left-back Leighton Baines believes that the squad has genuine competition for every place in the team and believes that players that are missing out would get in most other Premier League teams.

Baines also believed that having a competitive match so early in the season will focus his team as they prepare for an assault on the Premier league and Europa League at the same time.

“It felt good that (last week) was a competitive game – it felt like a proper game,” said the 32-year-old. “It automatically focuses you, rather than you having to force yourself to do it.

“It is a lot of football but I think we have prepared for that. The squad is a lot bigger. We have boys who didn’t make the squad last week who would get in other Premier League teams.

“We have lads out injured who would be first-team players. There is genuine competition for every position in the side.

“There will be times when there is rotation. It is the manager’s job to juggle that, and he has a staff to help him with it. We understand it as players – we have to prepare for it and know decisions are being made for the right reasons.

“If you are not being picked for a week or two, you have to use that time productively and say, ‘Okay, I am not featuring, maybe I have played a lot of games and really need to look after my body this week’.

“That is part of being a professional.”

“We know we will be in for a tough game – it was tough on home turf,” said Baines. “We will go over there with more idea of what to expect.

“We are in front, so if we keep another clean sheet, which we are capable of doing, we will win the game.

“We are treating this competition seriously. It is a part of our pre-season as well, because of the way the schedule has panned out. It was everyone’s first 90 minutes last week, so we will probably be in better shape for the second game.

“They were a decent team, they worked hard and were well organised. They pressed a bit more than they did in the bits we had seen beforehand.

“But we knew they would be decent – and they were.”

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