Phil Jagielka insists Everton must build on the momentum created by back-to-back victories and use their final seven Premier League games to lay down a marker for next season.
Cenk Tosun’s double secured a 2-1 win at Stoke City on Saturday, the red-hot Turkish striker netting either side of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s equaliser for the Potters.
The Toffees’ twin-successes in the past week have coincided with Jagielka’s return from injury and the skipper was again a towering influence alongside Michael Keane at the back. Indeed, Everton have now collected maximum points from the past three games the Club captain has started.
Jagielka says the onus is now on the players to maintain their focus for the remainder of the campaign and finish on a high.
“We’re on 40 points now and we want to see how many we can get,” he said. “It’s up to us now to make sure we don’t let the rest of the season fizzle out. We want to pick up some vital wins, which helps us build for next season.
"People have to put down their name in the squad for next season and these last seven games can go a long way for that.”
Saturday’s triumph was particularly satisfying for Jagielka given that it came away from Goodison Park. The Blues' recent home form has been outstanding – they’ve won 20 points from a possible 27 since Sam Allardyce watched on as Everton thumped West Ham United 4-0 on the eve of his appointment as boss.
In the build up to the Stoke clash, manager Allardyce emphasised the importance of replicating those Goodison performances on the road and approaching the game with a positive mindset.
Jagielka believes the tenacity the Blues displayed to dig in and secure three points at the bet365 Stadium highlighted the value of the coaching staff’s preparatory work.
“Sometimes talk is cheap and sometimes it gets everyone on the same page,” he said. “This week, all of us agreed with the principles that we needed to stick by. Looking at clips made us realise that we we’re not a million miles away [from getting it right away from home].”
While the entire Blues side showcased their resilience to see off Paul Lambert’s men in testing conditions in Staffordshire, the lethal finishing of in-form Tosun decided the contest.
The former Besiktas hitman has scored four goals in his past three games and Jagielka was effusive in his praise for the 26-year-old – not just for his abundance of attributes on the pitch but also his attitude and application off the field.
Jagielka insists there’s even more to come from Tosun and believes – as the striker further acclimatises to the Club and his teammates – he’ll be even more of a force next season
“He’s a striker who can finish with both feet and his head,” said Jagielka. “We just need to make sure we keep giving him good service. We’ve put in some decent crosses and he was on the spot for the goals. He’s settling in nicely.
“He’s always been confident in his own ability and is a good lad to have around. He had to bide his time when he first came in which probably helped him.
"He’s got used to the pace of training and matches and his goals have come recently. When it comes to the start of next season we’ll all be more aware of each other and he can kick on from there.”