Jagielka ready to take his chance to impress in England defence

The Everton defender was called up to the squad to replace Gareth Barry and could find himself starting after Gary Cahill dropped out due to injury, and with John Terry struggling
Everton defender Phil Jagielka is hoping to receive a chance to impress in an England shirt during Euro 2012 and has labelled the Three Lions' opening fixture against France as their biggest game of the group stage.

Jagielka was initially included only on Roy Hodgson's standby list but was called up to replace the injured Gareth Barry and could now feasibly feature against Les Bleus after Gary Cahill was forced to pull out of the squad with a broken jaw.

France, Ukraine and Sweden enjoyed differing fortunes in their build-up to Euro 2012
John Terry is also rumoured to be facing a race to be fit for the game against Laurent Blanc's team, with the Chelsea captain yet to return to training having suffered a hamstring strain during Saturday's friendly victory over Belgium.

"It all seems to have turned around pretty quickly for me," Jagielka told the FA's official website. "I may have gone up in the pecking order but I will bide my time, take my chance and, if it comes my way, try to perform to the best of my ability.

"When the group got drawn out, we knew, not taking anything away from Sweden or Ukraine, that probably the biggest game in the group was going to be France. It adds spice being the first.

"It is important to start the tournament well, I am sure they are thinking the same. Hopefully come Monday, the manager has got us ready and we can start the the tournament well."

Jagielka could find himself playing alongside former Everton team-mate Joleon Lescott, who became a regular fixture at the back for Premier League champions Manchester City during the domestic season.

"Joleon has been brilliant," Jagielka enthused. "It is fantastic to see. He has got a couple of medals since he has moved on.

"He is a brilliant lad, we have known each other for a while and if at some time we line up together it will be a fantastic experience."

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One man definitely ruled out of the France match is suspended striker Wayne Rooney, but Jagielka was not concerned about the Manchester United star's state of mind ahead of his probable return in the final game of the group stage against Ukraine.

"Wayne [Rooney] is fine," the 29-year-old insisted. "He is gutted not to be playing but if you have ever seen him train, he is like a big kid. He loves it.

"He knows that is going to be the situation. He is just desperate to get some game time. He supports us and can keep himself amused."

Jagielka tipped goalkeeper Joe Hart to star for England, hailing the Manchester City man's performances during the squad's training sessions.

"I've only watched Manchester City from a distance this year, but he has probably been their best player," Jagielka opined. "Some of the saves he pulls off in training are unbelievable. It is just the way he goes about it."