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May, 29, 2012

Baines ignoring United speculation

Everton defender Leighton Baines is refusing to be distracted by rumours linking him with Manchester United and insists he is concentrating only on representing England at Euro 2012.

• United close on Kagawa deal
• Survey claims one in ten support United

Baines, 27, is currently preparing for the European Championship, where his role will likely be as back-up to Ashley Cole. But there is talk that at club level he could be set to replace Patrice Evra as Sir Alex Ferguson's first-choice left-back after enjoying another superb campaign with Everton.

However, while Baines admitted that being linked with a move to Old Trafford was "flattering", he stressed that he is happy with life at the Toffees and pledged not to lose focus on his immediate future - with England in Poland and Ukraine.

"The United link is flattering," Baines said. "There is no harm in people talking about it because it is a great club. But I'm at a great club as well, a club that I love.

"The focus now is all on the tournament. There's not much time to let other things seep in. It's about getting your head on this job for the next six weeks and trying to do the best you can.

"Would it be hard to turn United down? I'm not letting my focus shift to that while I am in camp. I'm focused on what I'm doing at the moment.

"Would it be hard to leave Everton? Yes, obviously. You know what it means. I've been there for five years myself but also know first-hand what it means to a lot of people so, yes it would be.''

Baines is now relishing the prospect of his first senior tournament with his country even though he recognises the size of his task to replace Ashley Cole in the side.

"To go to any tournament is great. Hopefully the disappointment of missing out last time is wiped away a bit for me. I was a bit of a late runner and only came into the squad a couple of months before so it was a strange situation.

"Six months before I was nowhere near, was never in the squad, and then you make the 30 and have a chance. You get your hopes up and then you miss out and have the disappointment.

"I think this time I've been involved in pretty much all the squads leading up to it. It was just nice to make the final cut."

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