West Bromwich Albion
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Real Betis
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 By Kevin Palmer

Leighton Baines defends England's back four

England are left relying on Italy to keep their FIFA World Cup hopes alive following a 2-1 defeat to Uruguay in Group D.

England defender Leighton Baines has insisted defensive frailties are not the primary reason why Roy Hodgson's side have lost their first two games at this summer's World Cup finals.

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Thursday's 2-1 defeat against Uruguay left England's hopes of qualification for the knockout stages of the competition hanging by a thread, with some critics suggesting the back-line selected by coach Hodgson has been exposed by top-class strikers.

Yet when the Everton left-back was asked whether a back four that also includes his club colleague Phil Jagielka, Chelsea's Gary Cahill and Liverpool's Glen Johnson has struggled to cope at this World Cup, he backed his teammates.

"I don't think that's the case. We haven't given up too many chances in the two games, but when we have, we have been punished," Baines told reporters.

Match 23
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"The tournament has been a bit like that. There have been a lot of goals so far and we'll have to look at it in the next couple of days

"You are at the top level of the game and it is small margins. We haven't been outplayed in any of the games, we have just come up short maybe."

Baines insisted England were making strides forward despite their Group D defeats against Italy and Uruguay, as he suggested the future could still be bright for a relatively youthful group of players.

"I've got to say it does feel like we are moving forward but you have got to find ways to win games," he added. "We've not been able to do that and ultimately that could be costly.

"I think there is experience out there on the pitch, we created a few chances as well, but we have probably just got to reassess over the next couple of days."


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