Oct 182014

Sensiible footballers strive for balance in their outlook: never get too high, never get too low.

Football in England likes nothing more than crowning a new hero only to swiftly de-throne him the next day.

Forgive the source, but Piers Morgan sums it up in his unusually self-depreciating online bio – ‘One day you’re the cock of the walk, the next a feather duster.’

Sylvain Distin knows what that feels like.

The man with over 400 appearances in the Premier League – the most of any foreign outfield player, never got a single France cap.

And this season he has almost gone from being an indispensable cog in a highly functioning defensive unit to a spare part.

Unceremoniously dropped for Everton’s last three games the 36-year-old retreated to France where he was ordered to rest and return refreshed and re-focused.

But with John Stones and Phil Jagielka creating a burgeoning partnership in the heart of the Blues defence, it seemed like Distin could return as ready as he wanted and it would still do little to improve his prospects.

Cue fate.

Stones rises for an innocuous header in added time at Old Trafford and touches down to a world of pain.

The best estimate is that his torn ankle ligaments will keep him out for 10 weeks.

Suddenly Roberto Martinez has a dilemma.

Does he plump for the man he brought with him from Wigan, Antolin Alcaraz, to partner his captain, or turn back to a player he inherited from David Moyes?

Alcaraz has impressed only in fits and spurts since his arrival in summer 2013.

For every composed sashay out of defence and coolly delivered pass into midfield he has provided a moment of mayhem, or ill-judged decision like the costly first own goal against Southampton last term as his side still chased fourth place.

Mistakes can define defenders, but with such limited evidence upon which to judge the Paraguayan, the Goodison jury has stayed resolutely out.

On Distin the deliberations have been increasing.

He’s finished, he’s lost his edge, he should move on in the summer – those who have turned their back on him have done it conclusively.

But despite his advancing years, despite his patchy start to the campaign, the naysayers do Distin a dis-service.

He has not been the only one at fault so far as Everton’s defence has creaked. In fact he has not even been one of the worst offenders, apart from a poor error in the league cup at Swansea.

Age will eventually catch up with Distin, like it does everyone who ever pulled on a pair of boots. But his trademark pace has not yielded yet.

There is no reason why the former Manchester City and Newcastle man cannot re-establish the water-tight link-up with Jagielka which consistently put the Toffees towards the top of the clean sheet table.

Don’t write him off just yet.

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