Everton defender Phil Jagielka believes Chelsea's Ashley Cole is still England's best left-back, despite the recent form of close friend Leighton Baines, reports the Daily Star.

The 31-year-old reserved praise for his Toffees teammate, in the build-up to Friday's crucial World Cup qualifier against Montenegro, but admitted that the Blues full-back is rightfully considered the Three Lions' first-choice.

"It is a difficult one," admitted Jagielka. "Do you get a place in the team and keep it until you deserve to lose it?

"Or do you get a place in the team and lose it because you have done nothing wrong but someone else is potentially liked more by the press or coaching staff?

"I think Ashley has performed to levels that he does not deserve to lose his place and Bainsey is one of my closest friends.

"He has been fantastic for us at Everton but unfortunately for him, the person he has tried to nudge out of the way has performed very well, particularly in an England shirt."

Baines is set to deputise for Stamford Bridge stalwart Cole, who has been ruled out of Roy Hodgson's squad with a rib injury picked up in Chelsea's 3-1 victory over Norwich City in the Premier League last weekend.

Kieran Gibbs has been called up as a replacement for the Blues ace, but there is a slim chance that Cole could be available for the second game of England's Wembley double header when they take on Poland in their final Group H clash next Tuesday.

Either way, Jagielka is certain that England will be in capable hands with Baines, and might even benefit from the Everton star's unrivalled ability from set-pieces.

"He takes our free-kicks and penalties [at Everton] and he has fantastic quality delivering the ball," he added.

Topics:
Football
Phil Jagielka
England Football
Ashley Cole
Leighton Baines