Everton defender Leighton Baines has described his England call-up as the proudest moment of his career.
The left-back, who scored his first goal of the season in Everton's 2-1 defeat at Portsmouth, was certainly cheered up by being named 24 hours later in England boss Fabio Capello's squad for the forthcoming games against Slovakia and Ukraine. He will join team-mates Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka in the squad, the first time since the 1980s Everton have had as many players in an England party.
Baines said: "This is the proudest moment of my career. To get recognition at this level is something everyone aspires to, I am delighted and honoured to have been named called up."
He added: "Everything has happened so quickly. I was only thinking the other day that at Christmas I felt I would be lucky to get a run of two or three games in our team.
"But I am feeling a lot more confident now. Things had been stop-start since I came here but I always felt that if I could get a run of 12 or 15 games I would be much better.
"Thankfully that has happened and I am so pleased with the way things have gone recently. When I knew I was in the (original) 30-man squad, I would have been happy enough with that.
"I never really expected to get the (further) call but it is a terrific opportunity and I will give it my best shot."
Baines has played a key role in Everton's progress into the FA Cup semi-finals, and he added: "This is massive for the club, it shows just how much Everton have progressed. The training ground will be pretty empty this week with so many of the lads away on international duty."
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