Joleon Lescott believes tough qualification campain could be blessing in disguise for England

 

Joleon Lescott believes England's tough battle to qualify for the 2014 World Cup could stand them in good stead as he looks to form a first-choice centre-back partnership with Phil Jagielka.

Head coach Roy Hodgson's side lead their group by a point after Wednesday's uninspiring 1-1 draw with Poland in Warsaw and will be overtaken if Montenegro win their game in hand.

England's current situation is in contrast to some of their comfortable paths to tournaments, which have been followed by underachievement at European Championships and World Cups.

Lescott insists England were always anticipating a fight to qualify for Brazil, but believes that may work in their favour.

The Manchester City player said: "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 we get there.

"But having said that, I don't think any result away from home like against Poland is a negative one.

"We didn't play as well as we would have liked, but it is important to get results in qualifying rounds.

"We dug in and got a point against a good Polish side and now move onto the next game."

Lescott and Jagielka played together at youth level with England and then at Everton and the former hopes they can replace John Terry and Rio Ferdinand as the first-choice defensive duo.

"We'd like to believe so," Lescott said. "Obviously Gary Cahill has played a number of games and is out here (in Poland).

"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 for England Under-18s, 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."

PA

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