Jagielka wants Europe test

Everton defender Phil Jagielka has insisted that challenging for a Champions League place is a "nice pressure" to have.

Last Updated: 10/01/13 at 15:46 Post Comment

Phil Jagielka: Determined to win Champions League place

Phil Jagielka: Determined to win Champions League place

The Toffees have enjoyed an encouraging first half of the season and are currently fifth in the Premier League, just two points behind Chelsea.

Everton have often been forced to play catch up after the turn of the year, and Jagielka is determined to build on their hard work this year.

"I think the disappointment of the start of so many seasons means we've been deflated 10 games in," he said. "This season we've kept ourselves in with a chance - we've not been this high after Christmas for a long time.

"It's a nice pressure now. Rather than looking behind us or trying to win to stay out of the bottom three it is the case of the pressure being on to stay with the leaders.

"The march towards the European places will obviously be the motivation but we aren't looking too far ahead.

"We haven't got the biggest squad and we're looking at it game in, game out but at the moment that's not been too bad for us."

Jagielka signed a new four-year deal last week, and he has urged his fellow senior professionals to make similar commitments.

"I've signed for a few years and I hope we will go further up the league and be in this situation year in and year out," he added.

"We are not able to go into the transfer market and buy lots of players so when we do get key players we want to keep them as long as possible."

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nd yet... Jermain Defoe is still going to pronounce himself gobsmacked when he learns he hasn't made the England squad for the Euro qualifiers.

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