MAROUANE FELLAINI’S commitment to the Everton cause has never been in doubt in the dressing room, insists Phil Jagielka.
The Belgian midfielder was so determined to make amends for his controversial display in Everton’s FA Cup quarter-final fiasco that he played with an ankle injury in the following victory over Manchester City.
Fellaini produced a pointedly fierce show of commitment to help set a dominant tone for the Blues last Saturday, although consequently received the booking which will rule him out of the next two fixtures against Stoke and Tottenham.
However, Toffees vice-captain Jagielka believes the 25-year-old deserves more credit for his displays this season in a role which has seen him regularly targeted by opponents.
He said: “Felli has taken all the beatings for us throughout the season and he will feel sometimes like the world is against him. Sometimes it has been.
“You can forget he is not that old. He hasn’t grown up in the Premier League for all his career and hasn’t been at this level as long as others.
“He had a painful ankle problem before the City game and he could have milked it and missed the game before disappearing off on international week. But he was desperate to play.
“He strapped himself up and put in a great performance. You cannot question his commitment.”
Prior to his side's vital triumph over the reigning champions last Saturday, David Moyes admitted that he did not consider dropping Fellaini because he needed his best players on the pitch, and Jagielka hopes his team-mate can maintain the sort of influential contribution when he returns from suspension to help Everton’s European charge.
“We know what sort of person he is and I’d like to think most fans would consider what he’s done for the club this season,” said the England defender, who is hoping to be in contention for a return against Stoke next weekend, if stitches in his ankle have healed enough.
“We can forgive him for five minutes of ultra frustration which bubbled over, or the odd red card. It’s good to see that he’s up for it because when he’s like that it makes us a lot stronger as a team.”