Roberto Martinez has conceded Phil Jagielka will most probably have to sit out the FA Cup quarter final at Arsenal and could be forced into changes.
Roberto Martinez has rated Phil Jagielka's chances of lining up in the FA Cup quarter-final at Arsenal this weekend as "very, very unlikely."
The 31-year-old sustained a hamstring injury at the tail end of last month and missed his side's 1-0 win over West Ham United last weekend, as well as England's 1-0 success over Denmark on Wednesday night.
But his manager has more or less confirmed his absence for this weekend's clash and could be forced to field youngster John Stones in his place for the trip to the Emirates Stadium.
The situation is exacerbated by injury to Antolin Alcaraz, with the summer signing still sidelined so a vacancy has opened up alongside Sylvain Distin at the heart of the Toffees defence.
Stones relative inexperience should not detract from his undeniable potential but a game of such magnitude at this stage of his career could be a step too far for the former Barnsley man.
Martinez is a huge fan of a man who he has shifted across from right back to a more central position during his tenure, but knows his skipper's experience in such games could prove crucial to any hopes the travelling Merseyside outfit have of springing a surprise and reaching the semi finals.
It is an interesting footnote to Martinez's comments on Jagielka that he stops short of indefinitely ruling him out, so clearly feels he could still have a part to play.
There is an argument to suggest he is right to put his injured captain into the firing line, with Everton unlikely to reach the top four and, while Tottenham are still in sight in fifth, it represents a chance to go to Wembley and compete for silverware.
So, should Martinez go bold and start Stones or rush Jagielka back to full fitness?
Well the stats certainly make for interesting reading.
In terms of errors, at least, Stones comes out on top. Jagielka makes 0.04 per appearance in comparison to Stones, who has committed precisely none so far this season.
Even when it comes to errors directly leading to shots on goal, Stones' total of 0.09 per game is better than the captain's 0.13 while Jagielka's presence in the backline has coincided with more goals conceded (1.04 v 0.64) per outing.
Everton fans would be entitled to contest the fact their skipper has made considerably more appearances - more than double, in fact - and there are certainly positives to be drawn when that is factored into the debate.
Jagielka records more clean sheets per game, more tackles and aerial duels but do his percentages tally with that correlation?
In terms of tackles won, Jagielka's accuracy comes in at 76%, a steady total but Stones is way down on 62% but in the air the youngster comes out on top. He attempts a lot less than Jagielka on average (1.82 against 4.92) but has a success rate of 70% aerially, compared to just 59% for Jagielka.
It's a closer-fought battle than perhaps first anticipated, per appearance that is, and should offer Martinez food for thought when it comes to team selection for Saturday's crunch clash.
|Name||Team||Pos||Error Lead To Goal / apps||Error Lead To Shot / apps||Goals Conceded / apps||Clean Sheet / apps||Total Tackle / apps||Won Tackle / apps||Aerial Lost / apps||Aerial Won / apps||Apps||Mins|
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