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Stoke City (H) Fri 26 Dec 2014, 15:00, Barclays Premier League

‘Jags Can Be Next Captain’

by Daniel Alston @efc_danalston

Kevin Ratcliffe believes Phil Jagielka could follow in his footsteps and become a permanent Everton captain one day. Jagielka deputised for Club skipper Phil Neville earlier this season and has since committed his future to the Blues by agreeing an extension to his contract until 2017. And Everton's FA Cup-winning captain feels the England centre-half has all the necessary traits to takeover the armband when the time comes for Neville to put a halt to his distinguished career. "He certainly fits the bill to be a future captain," Ratcliffe told evertonfc.com. "He's an organiser, a talker and an international as well. I think he's one that the players look up to, especially the younger lads when they come in. "He's been here now for five-and-a-half years and his deal will take him up to 10 years. When you've been at a Club that long, people will look to you for leadership. Everybody does and the one thing you have to do is keep putting performances in. I'm sure he'll do that." With injuries forcing a succession of shuffles among the Everton defence this season, Jagielka has also found himself filling in at right-back on occasion. However, the return of Seamus Coleman since the turn of the year has seen Jagielka reunited in the heart of the back-line with veteran Sylvain Distin. It is Ratcliffe's preferred defensive partnership for the Blues, although the Welsh legend admits a hypothetical combination of the former Sheffield United man and himself would have been unlikely to work. He said: "I think we would have been too similar to play alongside each other. You need someone like a Sylvain Distin next to you to gel. Me, I had Dave Watson. "The likes of myself and Jagielka might have been too similar in style to form a partnership. He's got what a Distin needs - he's someone who can read a game, can compliment his play and they work together really well. 

"I think defenders improve with age, with the experience. As you get older, you're not as supple and as quick but you read the game quicker. You can sense things better and Jagielka's got all those attributes."

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