By Abigail Withey
Everton skipper Phil Jagielka has admitted that he had the opportunity to leave the club but has revealed that he is focussed on staying at the club in order to “fight” for his place in the first team squad.
The 35-year-old has been an integral part of the Toffees squad since joining a decade ago from Sheffield United.
With the arrival of fellow defender Ashley Williams during last year’s transfer window as well as Michael Keane this summer it has meant that the England international has had to compete for his place on the team sheet.
“There’s not a single little bit of me that is glad when I’m not playing but I understand with my age, getting more people in and it being a squad game your role has to change slightly,” Jagielka told the Liverpool Echo.
“Playing every game is not guaranteed so it’s up to me to do the best I can and see where it takes me.
“There were options to try and leave and go and play regular football, either in the same league at a lesser team but even in a different league but I’m at a great club here and I still want to fight for my place.
“I’m proud to still be captain and to try and help out both on and off the pitch. Until I stop getting those emotions, I’m definitely in the right place.”
Both Williams and Keane have appeared to be favoured by Koeman during the current campaign, as the Everton captain has been sidelined for a number of games.
Although the centre-back featured in the Toffees’ opening three Premier League fixtures against Stoke City, Manchester City and Chelsea, he was on the bench during his side’s 3-0 defeat to Tottenham at the weekend.
In addition to the Premier League, the defender was also benched for a majority of the club’s Europa League matches which left him watching his team from the dug-out.
Jagielka has been a mainstay player since joining 10 years ago, and has featured in a staggering 353 games for the Blues where he scored 18 goals and provided 10 assists.
Despite his decreasing playing time, the veteran defender penned a new two-year-deal with the club over the summer which ties him down until 2019.
In other Everton news, fans have urged Koeman to promote this attacker after stunning display in Under-23 squad.