Joleon Lescott hopes he will continue to be paired with Phil Jagielka for England

Joleon Lescott: Enjoys playing alongside Phil Jagielka

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Joleon Lescott is hoping he and Phil Jagielka can become mainstays at the heart of England's new-look back four.

With John Terry having announced his international retirement and Rio Ferdinand seemingly no longer in the picture, a new centre-half pairing must be found.

Lescott has staked his claim to one of the berths by figuring in eight of Roy Hodgson's 11 games so far, including all of those at Euro 2012.

Jagielka would appear to be the most likely candidate to fill the other spot, and Lescott admits he would welcome the opportunity to work on a pairing first put together at youth level and later reformed at Everton.

Asked if himself and Jagielka can nail down starting roles, the Manchester City defender said: "We'd like to believe so. Obviously Gary Cahill has played a number of games.

"Ryan Bertrand is also a quality player. But, if the manager believes myself and Jags can make the positions ours, then great and hopefully we can do that.

"We grew up together. We played from England U18s, then at Everton, and it is a level of trust."

Jagielka added: "I've known Joleon for a long time and we've played together on a few occasions for Everton and England.

"If our partnership is the reason that I get in with England alongside him, then I'll be ecstatic."

Struggle

Lescott and Jagielka played from the start as England dropped another two points on the road to the 2014 World Cup in a 1-1 draw with Poland, but Lescott believes a testing qualification campaign could actually benefit the Three Lions in the long run.

He added: "We never expected it to be easy and, in a way, hopefully it isn't that easy.

"In previous qualifiers, we've strolled through to tournaments and not looked as effective when we've got there.

"Maybe if we struggle to get there, but we do get to Brazil, hopefully it will stand us in good stead and it will be easier once there."