Ashley Cole recently picked up his 100th England cap, but is it time for the Chelsea full-back to step aside for Leighton Baines?

With England having two World Cup qualifiers in the space of four days against what would be classed as easier opposition - in the form of San Marino and Montenegro - this is a chance for Roy Hodgson to see which players should be in his ideal starting 11 for the 2014 World Cup. 

One of the hotly contested positions is at left-back, where the English stalwart Cole is under threat from the ever-impressive Baines. 

The question is: which of them should start at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil?

There is no denying that Baines has been in electric form this season, particularly due to his link up play with Steven Pienaar and his work ethic. 

However, it must be noted that in recent weeks the Everton squad has begun to look a little tired, including Baines, which was evident in the disastrous defeat to Wigan in the FA Cup earlier this month.

This raises questions about whether or not his work ethic is beginning to take effect on his performances. 

The area in which Baines excels would be his attacking drive going forwards, in addition to his set-piece ability - especially penalties, an area England have always been weak. 

However, Cole must not be ignored. He may not be as quick as he used to be, or able to get up and down the pitch as often, but he is solid. He is a consistent performer for country and club and this consistency over a season could be key to selection.

His experience in terms of playing in big games and being able to handle the occasion is unbelievably good -  as we saw with the Champions League last year, coupled with the fact he has won the FA Cup more times than any other player. 

This experience can and is often key in World Cups. Look at the Italian team of 2006: their back-four contained Fabio Cannavaro and Marco Materazzi, who were both over 30 and had played in the biggest games imaginable. 

This, again, could affect Hodgson's decision come 2014.

It must be noted that if Baines moves to a club like Manchester United - which many predict could be a possibility given Everton’s financial situation - he may then gain the experience of playing in big games. 

It is a difficult call for Hodgson and, in my opinion, he should give each player a full game in an England shirt in these next qualifiers to show what they are each capable of. 

Next season will be massive for both players and, at this point, it is hard to say which player has the edge. But next season may be a pivotal year and it could be the point where Cole has to pass the baton on to Baines.


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