Toffees boss applauds Jagielka

After making a full recovery from the cruciate injury he sustained

two years ago, Jagielka has now established himself as a member of

Fabio Capello’s England squad. The 28-year-old is also one of the

rocks at the heart of Everton’s impressive rearguard, and was a

major reason why the Toffeemen came so close to keeping Premier

League leaders Manchester United out at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Javier Hernandez eventually breached Everton’s defences six minutes

from time to secure a win that leaves Sir Alex Ferguson’s men

within touching distance of completing a record 19th championship

triumph. However, Moyes did not feel that cast Jagielka in a

negative light as one of the stand-out performers in a largely

impressive backs-to-the-wall display. “You saw again that Jagielka

is a very good defender,” said Moyes. “He has great recovery. He is

athletic and at grounds like Old Trafford, where Manchester United

are quick to make through passes, he is able to cope with it. “He

is in the top three or four centre-halves in England – and England

have some good centre-halves.” Speed and an unerring ability to

read the game have always been amongst Jagielka’s many attributes.

And Moyes reports excellent progress is being made in ensuring

Jagielka becomes more effective in possession, something that will

turn the former Sheffield United man into a modern-day player of

the highest order. “He would accept that is one of the areas he

needs to improve on because he is very good at all the defensive

things,” said Moyes. “But, with his age and experience, he is

getting better on the ball.” The result ended Everton’s six-match

unbeaten run and virtually any lingering hope of qualification for

next season’s Europa League. As Tottenham’s failure to beat West

Brom strengthened Manchester City’s top-four claims, it might turn

out to be irrelevant anyway. At least the Merseysiders are well

clear of trouble at the bottom though, which Moyes wondered whether

they would end up in given the arduous nature of their recent

fixtures and a crippling injury list. “Given our run of games in

the last five or six weeks, we might have been one of the teams at

the wrong end of the league,” he said. “But the players, they have

done really well. “Not that there is anything surprising in that.

They should be at the top end. “Maybe we are a league or two down

from Manchester United in terms of quality, but I would like to

think we will show the same toughness in every game we play from

now until the end of the season.”