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Arsenal (A) Sun 1 Mar 2015, 14:05, Barclays Premier League

by Hamish Dufton @efchamishdufton

Former Everton defender Joleon Lescott hopes for a prolonged reunion with former team-mate Phil Jagielka as the search for England’s next central defensive partnership begins.

Following John Terry’s international retirement and Rio Ferdinand’s regular omission from Roy Hodgson’s squads, both Lescott and Blues defender Jags will compete with the likes of Chelsea’s Gary Cahill and Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross for England’s centre back berths.

With the former Wolves man seemingly Roy Hodgson’s first choice defender – he has played in eight of Hodgson’s 11 games in charge and started every game at Euro 2012 – the talk has been on who will partner the Manchester City stopper.

However, having formed a solid partnership for the Toffees for a number of years before Lescott’s move to the Citizens, it looks like Jagielka has moved ahead of the pack, and Lescott hopes it is the start of a settled combination.

"We'd like to believe so,” he said. “Obviously Gary Cahill has played a number of games. But, if the manager believes myself and Jags can make the positions ours, then great and hopefully we can do that.

"We grew up together. We played from England U18s, then at Everton, and it is a level of trust."

Hodgson handed the duo a chance to impress in the recent World Cup qualifying fixtures against San Marino and Poland, and with only one goal conceded, they have done their prospects no harm indeed.

Everton man Jagielka hopes to have gone some way to cement his place in the international fold and hopes his relationship with Lescott continues to serve him in good stead.

"I've known Joleon for a long time,” said the Blues centre-back. “We've played together on a few occasions for Everton and England now.

"If our partnership is the reason that I get in with England alongside him, then I'll be ecstatic."

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