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England U21s -- Strength in depth

Tactics And Analysis 4 days ago
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May 27, 2014

Phil Jagielka: I will be fit for World Cup

Jagielka wants squads confirmed before the Premier League kicks off.
Everton captain Phil Jagielka returned for the last two games of the club's season after an injury.

England defender Phil Jagielka insists he will be fully fit for the World Cup as the Everton captain continues to battle back following a hamstring injury.

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Roy Hodgson has earmarked Jagielka and Gary Cahill as his first-choice centre-half pairing for the tournament in Brazil, but there were doubts about whether Jagielka would be available after he struggled to recover from the injury he suffered in February.

The Toffees defender was sidelined for two months towards the end of the campaign, but returned for the final two matches and is now nearing a return to full health after an intense week-long training camp with England in Portugal.

"Last week was important for me to get a few more sessions under my belt,'' Jagielka said after a training session at St George's Park on Tuesday.

"We had a really good session today and it is about getting myself ready.

"I do not need to be 100 percent fit this week, it is more about building up and getting match practice before we go out to Miami. Hopefully I will time it perfectly for the opening group game."

Many perceive England's defence to be their weak spot, but the Three Lions conceded just four goals in qualifying, while Hodgson will be comforted by the fact that they have not lost a game when Cahill and Jagielka have started together.

That statistic has meant Jagielka is now integral to Hodgson's plans, unlike two years ago when the 31-year-old was an unused squad player in Euro 2012 -- and the defender feels this is partly due to being named skipper at Goodison Park at the start of last season.

"Being made Everton captain this year forced that on me a little bit more,'' he continued. "I am quite loud and vocal on the pitch. It is important we have leaders in all different types of areas.

"I am not guaranteed to play but I am in a better position than I was two years ago. I have played a decent role in the qualifying campaign to get us to Brazil and it would be nice to get some game time and be part of a successful England team.''

While Jagielka is firmly on the comeback trail, the photographs of Luis Suarez in a wheelchair have not fooled Jordan Henderson, who fully expects to be lining up against his Liverpool teammate when England take on Uruguay in Brazil.

"Everybody is obviously disappointed for Luis, the people that know him -- maybe not us because he is a big player for Uruguay, '' the Anfield midfielder said.

"I gave him a text to see if he is doing all right and wished him good luck with whatever he has got to have done.

"But, knowing the type of person he is, he is a fighter and I am sure come maybe the first game or the second game in the World Cup he will be ready and raring to go.''

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