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Moyes: Jagielka can lead the way

David Moyes believes centre-back Phil Jagielka can grow into a great Everton captain.

• Liverpool v Everton preview

Jagielka, 30, will lead his side on to the pitch against neighbours Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday in the absence of Phil Neville.

Club captain Neville, who has not played since the FA Cup quarter-final defeat against Wigan on March 9, is unavailable for selection because of a knee injury.

Jagielka has already been confirmed as Everton's full-time captain for next season, with Neville set to leave Goodison Park this summer after eight years, and he has stated his belief that the added responsibility will help him mature as a player, adding that he can sometimes be "a big kid" in the dressing room.

Moyes said: "Jags' form on the pitch has been excellent. I've not seen many of those changes he's talked about this week, though. I still see that big kid jumping around here.

"But he's someone I said would step into the captaincy and the way he has played in the last few weeks has been excellent. Let's hope he keeps that up. He'll get better with responsibility over time, and we hope he'll be a great captain for this club."

Jagielka has captained Everton in a Merseyside derby before, having deputised for Neville in a 3-0 Premier League defeat at Anfield in March 2012.

He will be facing a Liverpool side without Luis Suarez, who serves the second game of a 10-match ban imposed for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic during a 2-2 draw at Anfield on April 21.

Moyes said: "Luis Suarez is a top, top player. He'd be missed by any team. But players get injured and suspended at all clubs, and your team has to move on. We've had a lot of players out at key times in our season. I'm sure Liverpool will get on with it and move on without him."

Midfielder Darron Gibson has a chance of being fit for Everton after sitting out last Saturday's 1-0 win over Fulham with a thigh problem.

Victory for Everton, who lie sixth in the Premier League, would guarantee them a finish above Liverpool, while keeping alive their European qualification hopes.

Moyes believes that securing a place in Europe would help the club attract good quality signings for next season.

He said: "I think qualifying for Europe is the attraction for a lot of players. Our goal has got to be to finish in Europe. Our focus is to try to get one of those spots. It's going to be tough, but we'll try everything we can to make it happen."

The manager, though, refused to say whether European qualification would have any bearing on his own Everton future.

Moyes, who has been in charge at Goodison Park for 11 years, is out of contract this summer and has yet to agree to sign a new deal.

He said: "We'll just get on with it. I've said my decision will be made at the end of the season, and that hasn't altered. But it would be nice if we do have European football, that's for sure."

Asked if he was thinking more about a decision on his future as the end of the season draws nearer, Moyes added: "No, not at all. I'll wait until the end of the season and we'll sort it out then."


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