DM: Baines is pushing Cole hard

Moyes has no doubt Chelsea defender Cole is a worthy number one but

has been hugely impressed by the progress of Toffees star Baines

this season. The 26-year-old, signed from Wigan four years ago, has

taken his game to another level since narrowly missing out on a

place in England’s World Cup squad last summer. Moyes said: “I have

said many times I think Ashley Cole is the best left-back in

England but I think Leighton Baines is just a tad behind him. “He

needs to keep pushing very hard and improving, he needs to keep

continuing his work and get better. “You can see that Ashley Cole

over the years has kept going but I think Leighton Baines has been

the ‘big mover’. He has done really well. “I think he is getting

closer to Ashley but in my personal opinion I think Ashley Cole is

probably still England’s best left-back.” Recent statistics

revealed that only Manchester United playmaker Nani has provided

more goal assists in the Premier League this season. Baines has

also scored six goals himself this term, including penalties in the

last two home games against Aston Villa and Blackburn. It is a far

cry from when he first arrived at Goodison Park when, despite his

promise, Moyes regarded him as a raw talent. Moyes said: “For a

while he wasn’t sure if he was maybe out of his depth but I think

he has grown into it. “A lot of people have come here and not

started in the team – for Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines it has

taken them to get into it in the way we want. “But in a way I think

that is right because it meant the players in the team were

fighting hard to keep in it while we had people like Jags and

Bainesy trying to push them. “Leighton has matured, his football

has got better. He has become a bigger part of the team now and is

well integrated. “We like him and think he has had a really strong

season.” Baines will come up against Nani as Everton travel to Old

Trafford to face the league leaders on Saturday. United are six

points clear at the top and, with just five games remaining,

closing in on a record 19th title. But after a sluggish start to

the campaign, Everton are finishing strongly and head into the game

as one of the competition’s form teams after seven games unbeaten.

Victory in the lunchtime kick-off could lift them above Liverpool

into sixth – albeit possibly only briefly – and Moyes is backing

his team to spring a surprise on a ground where he has never won.

He said: “It is a great place to play your football but it comes

with a bit of fear because you are going to play the top side in

the country. “But we are going there in decent form, decent fettle

and I think we can go there and try to give them a good game. “We

know we are going to have to give it a go but I think we are the

ones who don’t have much to lose.” Moyes has been compared to his

United counterpart and fellow Glaswegian Sir Alex Ferguson in the

past and has even been tipped as possible future Old Trafford boss.

The Toffees manager is flattered by suggestions his team bear

resemblance to United but does not believe it himself. He said: “If

people are saying that, that’s great, but I would say they have

about 250,000 more trophies than we have and so I can’t see the

comparison in truth. “If other people see it, that’s great because

that shows we are making progress. “I really hope that some day we

will be able to compete and challenge them.” Everton hope to

welcome key pair Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill back. Playmaker Arteta

has missed four games with a hamstring injury while midfielder has

been troubled by a foot problem for a month. Moyes said: “It is not

just this game – if we can get them back for Wigan, West Brom,

Manchester City and Chelsea in the next four games it would be

great. “Just getting them back around the squad is important.”