Jagielka talks up England centre-back partnership with Lescott

The Three Lions defender says it is "that little bit easier" partnering the Manchester City centre-back because of the understanding they built during their spell at Everton
England centre-back Phil Jagielka says it is "that little bit easier" playing alongside former Everton team-mate Joleon Lescott in defence.

The pair formed the heart of the Toffees back line that reached the FA Cup final in 2009 before Lescott made a £24 million switch to Manchester City.

And now Jagielka, who partnered his old club-mate for the final 20 minutes of the 1-0 win over Belgium on Saturday, is battling with the City defender to start alongside John Terry in England's Euro 2012 opener against France after Gary Cahill was forced out of the tournament through injury.

Speaking to reporters about his understanding with Lescott, the 29-year-old said: "It's familiarity really. We've played together a lot, we know each other, we get on well off the pitch.

"When you play together it does feel comfortable. We had some good seasons at Everton. Joleon moved on and has done well for himself since. But when you've played with someone a hundred times it makes it that little bit easier."

Jagielka has also been encouraged by England's start to life under new manager Roy Hodgson, who has guided his side to 1-0 wins over Norway and Belgium in his first two matches.

"Two clean sheets is brilliant," the Everton defender added. "I wouldn't say we played amazing but we created one or two decent chances and Welbeck had a fantastic finish.

"We've a week or so before the France game and we'll be looking to sharpen up at the other end of the pitch and hopefully put in a good performance against France."