Everton's centre-back is confident he can forge a solid partnership with Joleon Lescott but he will be tested in Poland
Such is the disparity between England's task in Warsaw on Tuesday night and last Friday's against San Marino that Phil Jagielka must now prepare to nullify the threat of one of Europe's top strikers where previously he was tasked with subduing a forward who makes his living working for a furniture company.
Poland and, most significantly, Robert Lewandowski will put England's defence under infinitely more scrutiny than they experienced during the 5-0 victory at Wembley – a game in which sections of the near capacity home crowd gleefully roared the minnows forward at the faintest hint of an attack.
For Jagielka, who will play for the first time against the country of his grandfather's birth, it is another opportunity to convince Roy Hodgson that he should be first choice in the heart of England's defence. With John Terry and Rio Ferdinand out of the picture, forging a new and authoritative backline must be a priority for the manager.
"John and Rio played together for England forever, didn't they?" Jagielka said. "They had a great partnership and there were a couple of others behind them waiting for a game. So you are down a long list of players trying to get your chance but time passes and people have good form, bad form and you get your opportunities.
"I've been around the squad for the last couple of years or so, played a game here and there and I'd like to play on a more consistent basis. But if the boss said, 'Come here and play every other game,' I'd take that as well."
Terry's international retirement has thrown the door open for centre-halves who have spent so long on the periphery. Jagielka, 30, has only 15 caps, despite five years at Everton where he has thrived under David Moyes and developed into an accomplished Premier League player.
The Chelsea captain's withdrawal from England duty has been a contentious issue. However, for Jagielka, Gary Cahill and Joleon Lescott it offers an opportunity to cement a regular place in the starting XI. With the youngsters Phil Jones and Chris Smalling expected to progress over the next few years, there may not be a better time to grasp such a chance.
Asked if there were mixed emotions when Terry retired, Jagielka was refreshingly honest. "Yes, definitely," he said. "If John was here, I would say exactly the same thing. Gutted for being an England fan – he has been a fantastic player for England. He's put his body on the line for many years now but he had his reasons. It was his decision, he wasn't forced. It was his choice so, if you look at it from a purely personal point of view, it was one less person to compete with playing for England. As much as I was gutted he wasn't going to play for England again, it was also an opportunity for me to try and go higher up the pecking order."
Lescott will return to the side in Warsaw after being rested against San Marino. The Manchester City defender was preferred to Jagielka during the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine but a partnership between the two, forged during Lescott's time at Goodison Park, could be England's strongest pairing during qualification for Brazil 2014.
"Me and Joleon met playing football, Under-19s, England Under-20s. There's a day between our birthdays, so we are pretty much the same age," Jagielka added. "It just works, the communication, the way we play. Obviously left-foot, right-foot also helps as well. It's just one of those things when you get to play with someone and it clicks. You think in a similar way.
"I find the element of partnership really important. If you're telling the person something and he's listening, you're both on the same page. If sometimes you're saying something and either they're not hearing it or they've decided to do something else it puts you on the back foot. It was something that just came about with me and Joleon.
"I don't know whether we play the game a similar way or not, it just seems to work and we've done OK when we've played together for England.
"I need him to tell me and to help me out just as much as I need to tell him what he has got around him to help him out. That's the main thing. If you have got someone telling you 'left shoulder, right shoulder, stay up, drop', it keeps you on your toes and vice-versa."
Jagielka said he is prepared for the transition that comes from facing the joint worst-ranked side in the world to an away trip against dangerous opponents.
Lewandowski has spoken of a desire to exploit England's defensive "problems" on Tuesday night. If he can be stopped and a 39-year undefeated record against Poland remains intact, it will be not only a key result for the team but a significant one for Jagielka.