Everton defender Phil Jagielka has admitted he is relishing the prospect of winding up Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney upon his return to Goodison Park this weekend.
The Toffees entertain Rooney’s Red Devils on Saturday, and Jagielka has admitted that his fellow England international can expect significant abuse from the home crowd – and from him.
Rooney remains unpopular in the city after the manner in which he left Everton in 2004 to join Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford, but recent revelations surrounding his private life will inevitably add more fuel to the flames at Goodison.
"It should be amusing," said Jagielka, who lined up alongside Rooney in England’s 3-1 victory over Switzerland on Tuesday.
"On Merseyside, Wayne always gets a little bit of stick and I'll be giving him a little bit as well if he plays on Saturday.
"I've spoken to him about it. All the boys in the England squad know who is playing who.
"It is always interesting playing against people you've just been away with in the week. No doubt I'll give him a bit of banter if he plays.
"There is a good chance he will get slaughtered. He normally gets quite a bit of stick anyway. I can't see that changing come Saturday."
Rooney has found himself caught up in a wave of controversy over the last week, but has featured in both of England’s European Championship qualifiers against Bulgaria and Switzerland respectively.
And after finding the net in Basel on Tuesday evening, Jagielka has backed his international team-mate to rise above anything that comes his way at Goodison.
"I'm sure Wayne can deal with it," the defender said. "He is tough and will let his football do the talking.
"I will enjoy the battle against him. I like playing against good players and Wayne is definitely a good player."
By Joe Brewincomments