Everton Club Focus – Rodwell and Jagielka impress in England colours

Whatever the rights and wrongs of Phil Jagielka starting for England against Spain despite having a fractured toe, it cannot be denied the centre-back was one of the standout players for Fabio Capello’s side. Together with Jack Rodwell’s decent second-half cameo, there was plenty for Everton supporters to enjoy from a parochial perspective in the single-goal victory.

Jagielka, starting with former Toffees colleague Joleon Lescott, was an effective last line of defensive for England. He made numerous interceptions, chose his moments to press further up the pitch wisely and distributed the ball about as well as could be expected considering the swarm of red shirts around him and the lack of white shirts in advance positions. Jagielka, who will not feature against Sweden having returned to Everton on Sunday, entered the kind of performance that could greatly help his domestic form, which has been patchy at best.

Distribution has been a particular problem for Jagielka when wearing an Everton shirt, although the fault for that lies as much with the defender’s teammates as the defender himself. Jagielka’s passes have at times gone wayward but he has had so few options close by a more difficult cross-field pass becomes a more favoured choice than it should be. Yet Jagielka is not an uncultured defender, and is capable, when the movement in attack is better, to launch a move from his deep position. The solid performance for England will hopefully help restore Jagielka closer to his best, when there are few centre-backs in the Premier League with his unerring positional sense.

If Jagielka was a standout player for England, Rodwell was an eye-catching substitute. Entering the fray in the second-half when England were already under the cosh, Rodwell was asked to use his speed and physicality to support Danny Welbeck in attack. This he did with his usual enthusiasm, if not the effectiveness needed to claim a regular international spot. But Rodwell did offer England some respite and again performed well in a designated tactical role. It was reminiscent of Rodwell’s performance against Manchester City were the midfielder was designated David Silva’s man-marker. Rodwell gave a mature performance by and large – an ill-advised lunge on Silva that drew a booking apart – but has looked less comfortable when left more to his own devices.

Rodwell and Marouane Fellaini form Everton’s usual midfield axis, but Rodwell so far lacks the positional sense to see off danger before it appears in the manner of his Belgian colleague. Fellaini appears from nowhere to snuff out any hint of trouble – Rodwell is often caught ball-watching and unaware of runners going past him. But given a clearly defined task as he was by Capello on Saturday – and by David Moyes at the Etihad Stadium – Rodwell is a potent weapon at either end of the pitch. Jagielka may not be involved when the Three Lions meet familiar foes Sweden but Rodwell almost certainly will be, at the start of what promises to be a long international career.

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