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Jagielka keen to capitalise on Terry's retirement

ESPN staff
October 14, 2012
Phil Jagielka wants to advance his international career © PA Photos

Everton defender Phil Jagielka believes he has the qualities to become one of Roy Hodgson's first-choice centre-backs following the international retirement of John Terry.

Jagielka, 30, started England's last two World Cup qualifiers against Ukraine and San Marino at Wembley, and the international friendly win over Italy in August. The only game he has missed since Euro 2012 is the qualifying win in Moldova when Terry partnered Joleon Lescott.

It means that Jagielka is Hodgson's most-used central defender as he plots a route through to Brazil 2014, and the former Sheffield United man believes he can marshall the defence.

"Would I like to be leader of the back-line? I'd like to," Jagielka, who is set to win his 16th England cap in Poland on Tuesday, told the press. "I've just turned 30 and I'm not exactly a young lad anymore. I've played quite a few games in the Premier League and the Championship before that to get my experience.

"You can't look too much into it. John's decided to retire now and there's a few of us competing for the two spots available. You'll have to wait a little bit longer to see who takes on the mantle of leading the back-four - but I'll be chucking my name in the hat.

"If John was here, I would say exactly the same thing. I'm gutted as an England fan. He has been a fantastic player for England, he's put his body on the line for many years now but he had his reasons. It was his decision. He wasn't forced as in like a gun to his head or anything.

"But, if you look at it from a purely personal point of view, it was one less person to compete with playing for England. It was also an opportunity for me to try and go higher up the pecking order.

"John and Rio [Ferdinand] played together for England forever didn't they? They had a great partnership and there were a couple of others behind them waiting for a game. You go down a long list of players trying to get your chance but time passes and people have good form, bad form and you get your opportunities.

"I've been around the squad for the last couple of years or so, played a game here and there and I'd like to play on a more consistent basis.''

Though Gary Cahill started alongside Jagielka against San Marino, Man City's Lescott has often been preferred to the Chelsea defender so far this season. With Jagielka and Lescott playing alongside each other at Everton previously, their understanding together could get the nod from Hodgson long-term.

"Myself and Jols met playing football, England Under-19s, Under-20s. Obviously Joleon also had a similar path to me, playing for Wolves in the Championship," Jagielka explained. "We made the first team at similar times, often played against each other, there's only a day between our birthdays, so we are pretty much the same age.

"We eventually got to play centre-half together at Everton and it just works, the communication, the way we play. Obviously left-foot, right-foot also helps as well. It just seems to work.''

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