PHIL JAGIELKA said he sympathised with John Heitinga’s frustration – after the Dutch defender endured a torrid afternoon during Everton’s draw with Aston Villa.

Injury problems prompted David Moyes to deploy Jagielka at right back on Saturday, while also keeping faith with Heitinga in central defence, but the Netherlands international went on to produce his worst display for the club since signing from Atletico Madrid in summer 2009.

Jagielka believes uncertainty over his place in the team could be the reason behind Heitinga’s period of poor form, and insisted he feels for his under-fire team-mate who has struggled to break into Everton’s starting central defence this season.

He said: “He’s bound to be down. We have all had one of those games when nothing seems to go right. In the end I think he’ll be thankful, like the rest of us, that we at least got a point.

“It’s difficult. He got player of the season last year and had a really strong second half of the season – especially with the cup run which meant he rightly got that award.

“But nobody is assured of their place in this team, and coming back to pre-season the manager obviously had ideas who he was and wasn’t going to play – and some people have done really well when they’ve got an opportunity, while some people haven’t had the opportunities they would have liked.

“It’s just the way football goes.

“I’m sure Johnny is frustrated that he is not getting the amount of games he would have liked.

“It’s hard not playing regularly. I didn’t enjoy not playing last season after I got injured and then wasn’t getting in the cup teams, so I know partially how he feels.”

Marouane Fellaini’s 93rd minute goal ensured a share of the spoils for Everton, and allowed them to remain in fifth place in the table but Jagielka admitted Moyes’ players were disappointed not to have recorded a consecutive home victory.

“We conceded so early and it was frustrating,” said Jagielka.

“But if you look at chances created I think they probably had three or four chances and scored three goals, while we were peppering their goal for 90 plus minutes. It wasn’t a flat performance, but it was annoying that we let them take their chances.

“A point wasn’t what we were aiming for at the out-set but historically it’s always been hard for us to beat Villa at Goodison.”