David Moyes has hailed Everton's Phil Jagielka as one of the best "three or four" defenders in England.
After making a full recovery from the cruciate injury he sustained two years ago, Jagielka has now established himself as a member of Fabio Capello's England squad. The 28-year-old was a major reason why the Toffees came so close to keeping Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester United out at Old Trafford on Saturday.
"You saw again that Jagielka is a very good defender," said Moyes. "He has great recovery. He is athletic and at grounds like Old Trafford, where Manchester United are quick to make through passes, he is able to cope with it. He is in the top three or four centre-halves in England - and England have some good centre-halves."
Speed and an unerring ability to read the game have always been amongst Jagielka's many attributes.
And Moyes believes Jagielka has also become more effective in possession.
"He would accept that is one of the areas he needs to improve on because he is very good at all the defensive things," said Moyes.
"But, with his age and experience, he is getting better on the ball."
The defeat against United ended Everton's six-match unbeaten run and virtually any lingering hope of qualification for next season's Europa League.
But Moyes said: "Given our run of games in the last five or six weeks, we might have been one of the teams at the wrong end of the league,
"But the players, they have done really well. Not that there is anything surprising in that. They should be at the top end."