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Stoke City (A) Wed 4 Mar 2015, 19:45, Barclays Premier League

by Rob Urbani @efc_roburbani

Leighton Baines believes it is the perfect time for Phil Jagielka to take on the mantle of Club captain.

The 30-year-old has been Phil Neville's able deputy in recent seasons - donning the armband with increasing regularity in the second half of the 2012/13 campaign.

And as Neville prepares for a new adventure elsewhere, Baines believes Jagielka is at the ideal point in his career, both in terms of form and experience, to lead the Blues into an exciting new era under Robert Martinez's management.

He told evertontv: "He is ready now to step into that role. He is ready for that. It is a loss to lose Phil (Neville), but it has worked well because Jags has been doing it for a little bit and has had a chance to bed into that role and now he is going to assume the responsibility full time.

"He is one of the more dominant characters in the squad. He is very experienced now and someone that everybody can look to.

"It will be great for him. He is quite vocal, as vocal as Phil was really, and he does lead by example as well."

The England duo, who are close friends off the pitch as well as impressive allies on it, were key figures in an impressive second half of the season defensively for the Blues.

In the first half of the campaign the side conceded 23 goals in the league compared to the much more impressive total of 17 in the 19 games after the midway point. It is a record in the second half of the year made all the more impressive by the list of difficult away fixtures which included Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham.

Baines believes the new captain was pivotal in that turnaround, explaining: "He had an amazing season. He has had injury problems but if there is a better centre-half around at the moment I would like to see him, because he is phenomenal at times - nobody beats him.

"He wins every tackle, the blocks he makes - he is brilliant for us. And it just underlines his importance now that he is going to take the armband on as well."

*Watch the video above now to also catch the thoughts of Tim Howard and Leon Osman on the new Everton skipper. Users of the Official Everton app can view this in the 'Video' section.

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