Phil Jagielka says striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s profitable run as Everton’s centre-forward is just reward for the 21-year-old’s “fantastic work-rate and great attitude”.
Calvert-Lewin’s expert headed finish at Newcastle United on Saturday was his eighth goal in 15 starts this season – and came 11 days after an accomplished strike at Cardiff which pointed to a footballer operating high on confidence.
Captain Jagielka, who joined his teammates and Manager Marco Silva for Everton in the Community’s People’s Place Gala Dinner at Liverpool’s Titanic Hotel on Tuesday, is hoping to be fit for Sunday’s clash with Chelsea after missing out on the trip to Newcastle.
Calvert-Lewin led the line magnificently in the north east, winning six aerial duels – far more than any other attacker on the pitch – and providing one key pass to add to his goal, which came when the Englishman skilfully diverted Lucas Digne’s delivery across goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.
Jagielka expects the striker to continue flourishing – and is doing his bit to aid Calvert-Lewin’s development.
“I was delighted for Dom to get his goal, it was a fantastic header and his work-rate all season has been fantastic,” Jagielka told evertontv.
“He is confident and that is a result of getting game time, getting his fitness up, working hard in training and always asking questions.
“Maybe he has not had as many chances as he would like, but it is nice that those chances are now coming and he is tucking them away.
“He is [difficult for a centre-half to handle] and we face each other in training. I try to make it as tough as possible and help him out as well, to give him a few ideas of what he should and shouldn’t do.
“I hope he takes the positive stuff on board and he looks like he has done, he has a great attitude and hopefully he will keep on scoring.”
Jagielka made his second Premier League start of the season against Cardiff late last month and helped Everton record a clean sheet in a 3-0 victory.
Silva’s team then finished goalless with Liverpool but are preparing to tackle Chelsea after last weekend's loss at Newcastle.
Jagielka played as a substitute when Everton drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge back in November and, with Kurt Zouma ineligible to face his parent club, could come into contention for this weekend’s encounter.
The 36-year-old, in his 12th season with the Club and a veteran of 381 appearances, has seen signs of Everton’s reshaped squad evolving under Silva and is targeting the consistency which would reflect that progress.
“This division is so unpredictable and it is difficult to put together a consistent run of games,” said Jagielka.
“We have struggled to do that over the past couple of years.
“But the manager is settling in, he knows his squad, and hopefully we can finish the season well and build for next season.
“There is a lot of potential here, a lot of good young lads and some experienced players. Hopefully the results will be less up and down, more consistent – and everybody will be happy.
“We know what it will be like on Sunday, the fans will get behind us and we will, hopefully, give them something to shout about. And it would be nice to finish off this week – especially before the international break – with a positive result.
“It was a bit frustrating for me picking up a small injury last week but I hope I am ready and with Kurt being out we will have to use everyone in the squad.”
Jagielka, meanwhile, lent his support to EitC’s Gala Dinner, hosted to raise funds for the charity’s People’s Place project, and was even involved in a game of Bullseye on stage.
He was keen, though, to underline the serious element of the evening, which was to help EitC close on the £1million they are targeting to launch The People’s Place, a proposed facility on the Goodison Campus which will provide ready access to mental health support for anyone, regardless of age, gender or location.
Jagielka participated in a mental health training session with EitC’s mental health charity partner Chasing the Stigma back in October and hopes an Everton-inspired initiative will encourage people to seek help.
"If you see a building with our crest on… sometimes it makes it easier to take that walk down the road, or bus journey, and open the doors and go and speak to someone," said Jagielka.
“We have spoken about it a lot in the changing room.
“If things do get too much sometimes, finding someone to speak to, hopefully the right person, can make a massive difference, and that is something we are looking to do once we raise the funds and open the facility.
“I was delighted I was able to participate in the Chasing the Stigma training. It was great fun but very serious.
“If we can manage to raise the money and develop the project and make a hub for people to visit if they are struggling with anything – that is a fantastic initiative for the Club to put its name to.”