Everton skipper Phil Jagielka has backed defensive duo Michael Keane and Mason Holgate to shine in the centre of the Toffees’ defence.

The pair haven’t graced the pitch in a centre back pairing just yet, but Jagielka has not ruled out the possibility of a long term partnership between the two Englishmen, and at the ages of 21 and 25 respectively, they have a lot of football to play.

Asked about Holgate, Jags replied: “Mason got a chance against West Ham and played really well.

“Sometimes as a young lad you tend to get pulled out of the team if an older pro gets fit. But I was delighted the manager stuck with him.

“He deserved it. I thought he was man of the match away at Newcastle and he has performed exceptionally well.

“It is nice that he has got some confidence and developed a good, solid partnership with Ashley Williams.

“We are all pulling in the same direction. We are not pulling against each other, we want to push each other on to perform well.”

Keane has struggled with form, injuries and keeping a place in the side since his £30 million summer move from Burnley but the captain has backed the England international to come good in a blue shirt.

“Keano has had a couple of injuries recently, so it has not been ideal for him, but it is only his first season here.

“He will settle down and I am sure he will do a fantastic job for Everton, especially under the guidance of the manager here.

“Mason will always do what is required when he is asked to play right-back, even though it is not his strongest position.

“But when the manager puts belief in you, and picks you over other players in the position where you are most comfortable, it gives you that little bit more confidence.

“Communication is a massive thing as a defender and he talks well. He is still learning and has definitely done himself a lot of good over the past couple of months.”

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We'll miss him when he's gone. No player lasts forever, but when they stop, that's it. Has been brilliant for us.


When he retires we could have him around at the club constantly telling the defence how good they are like a fluffer on porn sets.


Please retire Phil.


Good to see from Jagielka – if say, Keane is struggling then as a player some positive words being said about you can only help.