Now Lescott has to lead like Terry, says Moyes

By JOHN EDWARDS

Last updated at 20:08 29 February 2008


Joleon Lescott was

handed the challenge of

his career on Friday

after being urged to try

to emulate John Terry as

a defensive cornerstone for

club and country.

Everton's £5million signing from

Wolves has already proved one of the

bargains of recent times in his two

seasons at Goodison Park, after firmly

establishing himself in the Barclays

Premier League and breaking into the

England set-up.

Manager David Moyes is eager to

secure his long-term future, and has

opened talks on a new contract, but

had more pressing matters in mind as

he assessed how far the versatile

25-year-old could progress at the heart

of Everton's and England's defence.

'He is improving all the time and the

next step for him is to become a real

leader of this team,' said Moyes.

'Someone who can command respect

and kick on, in the same way John

Terry has at Chelsea. You could

include Rio Ferdinand in that for the

way he has become more of a leader

at Manchester United.

'Now Joleon has to aim at showing

the same dominance for us and the

way he does it is by taking more

responsibility for the team, as well

as himself, and developing his personality.

'He is capable of doing it because

I've seen a greater maturity in his

performances. He is a very conscientious

footballer, who is always trying

to improve, and it gives you a great

feeling when you are surrounded by

players who want to listen and understand

and learn. That is why I believe

he is ready for this next step, ready to

grab the challenge and realise he is

already an England defender, never

mind a Premier League one.

'I have no problem with him over a

new contract. We are making progress

and I think it should be sorted out. We

are talking to Steven Pienaar too and,

with both of them, it is just a case of

going about our work quietly.'

Moyes admitted Lescott had not always willingly fitted in at left back

and needed reassuring about his longterm

role being in the centre of

defence.

'We have spoken about it but he

appreciates that I know where his

best position is,' he said. 'There is no

doubt he wants to be playing

centre half and that is where he is

most effective. But he also must

realise he has played left back

for England so there are sometimes

benefits to be had for being so

versatile.'

Yakubu faces one of his former clubs,

Portsmouth, at Goodison Park tomorrow

in the form of his life after shrugging

aside the furore over his late

return from the Africa Cup of Nations

and hitting a rich vein of goals.

The £11.25m record signing from

Middlesbrough has looked sharper

than ever since walking into a tirade

from disciplinarian Moyes and an

£80,000 club fine, and underlined his

current lethal touch with a UEFA Cup

hat-trick against SK Brann.

'I don't think it was a few sharp

words from me so much as the service

he has been getting from those

around him,' said Moyes. 'I don't

know whether he felt he owed us all

after what happened but he was

certainly full of remorse at being so

late back. As is the case with anyone

in any organisation you have to turn

up for work on time but the matter

has been dealt with and is behind us.

'What counts now is that he is

scoring goals and contributing in

other ways as well. Whatever his motivation

is at the moment, long may it

continue, because he seems to be

scoring almost every week. I have to

say I have found him a really pleasant

boy to work with and I think the

evidence shows he has found us good

to work with as well.'

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