John Heitinga welcomes competition for places at Everton ahead of facing Liverpool

John Heitinga: The Dutchman has been alternated with Sylvain Distin at the heart of Everton's defence this season

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John Heitinga has no problem with Everton manager David Moyes' central defensive rotation policy even if it means he could miss the Merseyside derby.

Phil Jagielka has been a regular at the heart of the back four this season while Heitinga and Sylvain Distin have started three and five Premier League games, respectively, as his partner.

The latter was the preferred choice for Sunday's draw at Queens Park Rangers and could be expected to keep his place for this weekend's meeting with Liverpool at Goodison Park.

Having to watch the derby from the bench would no doubt be a disappointment for Heitinga, who is thought to be close to signing a new contract, but he is pleased with the competition for places at Everton.

"I'm not frustrated," the Dutchman told his club's official website. "We've got three really good centre-halves and the manager spoke with all three of us and said, 'you are all going to play a lot of games this season'.

"Of course you want to play all the games, and also I can play in different positions, but my best position is centre-half.

"Last year I think the manager was lucky that one of us had injury or suspension and he didn't have to choose but now the three of us, at the moment everybody is fit and the only player that played all the games is Jags.

"Competition for places makes you a better player. There is a lot of competition in the team at the moment and the best player will always play."

Heitinga does not want to consider high-flying Everton favourites for the derby but he is excited by the prospect of winning on Sunday and opening a nine-point gap over an inconsistent Liverpool.

"I can't wait until next Sunday, because it's the biggest game of the year in my eyes," he said.

"It's a home game as well and if you take a look at the table, you know, you can't talk about favourites but if we win, there's a big gap between us and Liverpool.

"I'm not talking about favourites but you know this is a game that is different to a league game because it's a derby and the stadiums are not far from each other."