Phil Jagielka is unlikely to start for Sheffield United on Monday when they host Arsenal in the Premier League.
Manager Chris Wilder has stuck with the same three-man central defence for all eight of the Blades’ league matches so far. It’s easy to see why, with only leaders Liverpool conceding fewer than their seven goals this season.
Jagielka has largely been limited to cameo roles, coming off the bench twice so far. The 37-year-old also played all 180 minutes of their EFL Cup campaign.
Yet Jagielka was under no illusions when he rejoined his boyhood club this summer. Released by Everton after 12 years at Goodison Park, Wilder took the opportunity to add some Premier League experience to his newly promoted squad.
“It’s up to me now to get in the team – and if not, play a role behind the scenes to make sure we’re successful,” Jagielka said during an NBC documentary about the club.
Why Phil Jagielka would make a great coach
Clearly Jagielka is aware his game time is likely to be limited in 2019/20. His reference to a role “behind the scenes” could just be about his leadership in the dressing room. But maybe it points to more?
Still in impressive physical shape for a player who will be 38 next birthday, Jagielka still isn’t going to be playing football for too much longer.
With 362 top flight appearances and 40 England caps to his name, there are few more experienced players than the defender in the English game right now.
Whether the Blades stay up or not, that experience would be a great thing to add to their backroom staff.
Plus, like Wilder, Jagielka has a strong personal connection to the club. The centre-back came through the academy ranks at Bramall Lane, playing 247 times for them before leaving for the Toffees in 2007.
The way Wilder speaks about Jagielka suggests he’s got all the right attributes to become an excellent coach.
“His history with the football club’s fantastic. Meeting up with him, his desire to come here was obvious,” the 52-year-old told the club’s website after completing the signing.
“To have him in and around our changing room is going to be invaluable. He’s got a wealth of experience, a calmness.
“Grounded, humble and wants to add to the group.”