Sport Soccer

Sunday 15 December 2019

Martinez won't rush Jagielka return

Phil Jagielka is coming back from a hamstring injury
Phil Jagielka is coming back from a hamstring injury

Everton manager Roberto Martinez insists it would be a "fatal gamble" to bring back captain Phil Jagielka too early from a hamstring injury.

The centre-back has missed the last six matches and although the Toffees boss said the defender would travel to last weekend's game at Fulham he did not feature in the squad and the club's medical staff have warned he is not yet ready to return.

Martinez made the error of throwing Jagielka into action too soon for the 4-0 Merseyside derby defeat at Anfield in late January and insists he will not make the mistake again.

The risk of the England international getting injured again now would put his World Cup place in doubt but his manager said that was not the basis of his thinking.

"We need to be very careful. It is an injury we need to be very aware we don't get a recurrence," said Martinez.

"I still think he is doing his individual programme and the medical department are not ready to allow him to join the group and be in the squad.

"I don't think he will be available for this week (against Arsenal) and I think we need to play it very much safe with Phil.

"He has played a lot of football and the concern is even though he is ready to step up we need to be careful with introducing him into games.

"Don't get me wrong, the well-being of the player is the most important thing.

"With all fairness I rushed him back in one game this season and that was because we had no-one else to play.

"Sometimes you can do that because of the amount of minutes they have played and it is a controlled gamble, but at this stage of the season it would be a fatal gamble if he is not fully match fit and having to cope with a possible soft-tissue injury.

"It is not having the World Cup in mind, it is having in mind the number of minutes he has played and I want Phil to be 100 per cent to be able to put him on the pitch.

"That will help him, the team, and he will be available for the summer. It is having the healthy state of Phil in mind."

There was better news on midfielder Ross Barkley, who came off at half-time in Everton's 3-1 win at Fulham with a calf problem.

"He's had two very good days and we will assess him today and we will hope he can join the group today or tomorrow so we are very much positive he will be available for Sunday."

Martinez also expects to see fellow midfielder Darron Gibson back before the end of the season after a cruciate knee ligament operation.

"I would be surprised if he doesn't join the group next week. That doesn't mean he will be involved on the pitch but if he is progressing the way he is I think we could see him playing before the end of the season."

Striker Arouna Kone, out since October with a knee injury, will not be available, however, but Bryan Oviedo's hopes of making the World Cup with Costa Rica are good as he continues to make astonishing progress from a double fracture of his leg in January.

"I don't think we will see Kone this season. It is more realistic to see him back in pre-season," said Martinez.

"But I do feel Bryan has a good opportunity to join the group in the final week of the season, which is an incredible recovery time.

"From a medical point of view he will be available (for the World Cup) which allows the manager to make a decision on that.

"The moment the injury happened I thought the World Cup was out of the question but there is a chance."

PA Media

The Left Wing: John Cooney on Ulster's European run and bouncing back from World Cup disappointment

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport