Phil Jagielka believes he will be fully fit and ready to face Italy in England’s opening game of the World Cup
Toffees defender Phil Jagielka is confident he will be fully match fit and raring to go for England’s World Cup opener as the Everton captain prepares to face Peru at Wembley this Friday.
Despite having returned to play in Everton’s final two games of the season, the 31 year-old is hoping the forthcoming World Cup warm-up friendlies will improve his match fitness before England’s Group D opener against Italy in Manaus on June 14.
“It was an important week last week, getting out to Portugal to get a few more sessions under my belt,” said Jagielka.
“And we had a really good session today.”
“I do not need to be 100 per cent fit this week, it is more about building up and getting match practice before we go out to Miami, hopefully timing it perfectly for the opening group game.”
Jagielka, who was enjoying a fine first season under new Blue boss Roberto Martinez until he was struck down with a hamstring injury which kept him out of the game for two months, believes his performances in England’s successful qualifying campaign will stand him in good stead for the World Cup finals.
“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 team,” he said.
The Manchester born defender was an unused squad member at Euro 2012 however the Blues captain hopes to take the experience of being involved in a major international tournament to the next level.
“I am not guaranteed to play but I am in a better position than I was two years ago.”
“It is all about momentum. If we can get some decent results in the friendlies we have got before the tournament, confidence will be high.
“People may be playing down our chances but momentum is a fantastic thing in football. The lads are really positive.”
Jagielka is fully expected to partner Gary Cahill in the heart of England’s defence and the Chelsea defender believes the two have built up enough of an understanding to help waylay any fears that England will miss the experienced partnership of Rio Ferdinand and John Terry.
“I remember playing with Phil the first time and people were talking about the fact that Rio has gone and JT has gone.’
“But over time our partnership has got stronger and stronger and better,” said Cahill.
“We had a run of seven consecutive starts together last year and I thought that went well.
“We have got a better understanding, a better partnership together when we have played in these games.”
“More importantly we have not conceded too many goals so that is pleasing and I hope that continues if we are paired together in Brazil.”
After being preferred to Ashley Cole by Roy Hodgson, Jagielka and Cahill look certain to be joined in England’s back four by Everton left back Leighton Baines.
As well as backing his teammates defensive prowess, the Toffees captain is certain the attacking full back’s all round game will provide England with an extra threat going forward.
“Leighton was unfortunate to be behind Ashley in 2012 but he is a fantastic player and I am more than happy with his capabilities,” said Jagielka.
England face Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica in Group D at the World Cup Finals in Brazil.
Roy Hodgson’s team open on 15 June against Italy in the Amazonian city of Manaus.
The only World Cup game kicking off at 02:00 BST.
England play Uruguay on 19 June and face Costa Rica on 24 June.