Tim Howard said Phil Jagielka's performance at QPR was befitting a man who will become an international regular.
Jagielka followed up back-to-back England caps with a man of the match performance in Everton's 1-1 draw at Loftus Road on Sunday.
He went close to scoring on two occasions but it was his defensive work which caught the eye.
Howard said: “Jags was immense. He’s grown and grown and looks like he’ll cement himself in the England team playing like that.
“He’s been doing that for us for years. He’s a player who does his own job and at the risk of making a mistake he’ll try and cover for everyone else on the field too. He’s a leader, he’s solid, and he was an animal against QPR.
“It was a classic centre-half performance – he was everywhere. It was just one of those nights you knew he wasn’t going to get beaten. He’s been a rock for us for a long time and we need him to have the momentum going into the derby.”
In the end Howard insisted the Blues were considering the point gained against QPR to be a positive result as they head into Sunday's clash with Liverpool.
In particular, he believes the all-for-one spirit exhibited when the side was reduced to 10 men will be key this weekend.
"At the point of the sending off we would have taken the draw," he told evertontv. "We had to dig in and the early goal hurt. It was preventable but in the end I thought we played well and it felt like a good point.
"I thought in the first half the defence was fantastic, they were really strong and powerful in the air. In the second half we had to be, it was backs to the wall stuff.
"No matter how confident we are going forward, I don't think we can ever lose that 'roll up your sleeves and fight for the team' spirit that we are known for.
"If you get away from that then the rest of it doesn't matter.
"Missing Steven Pienaar through suspension is still is a huge loss but we have gotten much better. Guys are going to have to fill in that role and hopefully fill in a positive way.
"He's a big miss but we will get on with it, have a good week of training and figure out the system we want to attack them with and someone is going to have to fill in."