Jagielka Senses England Chance
Everton man senses his chance to shine on international stage.
Phil Jagielka senses this could be the time to cement his place as an England regular.
And he's hoping plenty of his future caps are alongside Leighton Baines.
After John Terry's international retirement and with manager Roy Hodgson repeatedly omitting Rio Ferdinand for 'footballing reasons', Jagielka has finally been rewarded for the quality, consistency and patience he has shown in recent seasons.
"John and Rio played together for England forever, didn't they?" said the Everton man.
"They had a great partnership and there were a couple of others behind them waiting for a game. So you are down a long list of players trying to get your chance but time passes and people have good form, bad form and you get your opportunities.
"I've been around the squad for the last couple of years or so, played a game here and there and I'd like to play on a more consistent basis. But if the boss said, 'Come here and play every other game,' I'd take that as well."
Jagieka is better placed than most to comment on Leighton Baines' form this term and he admits he isn't jealous of Hodgson having to choose between his Blues teammate and Ashley Cole.
He said: "I don't see there's any difference really. Ashley has performed at that level for a long time now and put himself up there as one of the world's top left-backs.
"But if you watch Bainesy enough, and he won't thank me for saying it, he's been by far our best player all season.""A lot of the strikers take the plaudits but it's hard for a full-back to create as many chances as he has, more like a winger or a number ten. He's been amazing.
"It is a test to see if he can stay at those levels and if he gets to stay in the team and keep performing as well as he has done, and possibly keep Ash out of the team."
The 29-year-old centre half also admitted he had mixed feelings when the Chelsea captain signalled the end of his international career earlier this season.
"Yes, definitely," he said. "If John was here, I would say exactly the same thing. Gutted for being an England fan – he has been a fantastic player for England. He's put his body on the line for many years now but he had his reasons. It was his decision, he wasn't forced. It was his choice so, if you look at it from a purely personal point of view, it was one less person to compete with playing for England. As much as I was gutted he wasn't going to play for England again, it was also an opportunity for me to try and go higher up the pecking order."
And such is the current scenario that Jagielka will likely find himself playing alongside former Blues teammate Joleon Lescott when England face Poland on Tuesday night.
It's a reunion he's happy to be part of - for personal and footballing reasons.
"Me and Joleon met playing football, Under-19s, England Under-20s. There's a day between our birthdays, so we are pretty much the same age," Jagielka explained. "It just works, the communication, the way we play. Obviously left-foot, right-foot also helps as well. It's just one of those things when you get to play with someone and it clicks. You think in a similar way.
"I find the element of partnership really important. If you're telling the person something and he's listening, you're both on the same page. If sometimes you're saying something and either they're not hearing it or they've decided to do something else it puts you on the back foot. It was something that just came about with me and Joleon."