Boss keen to get defender back – but Palace will come too soon.
Roberto Martinez says Phil Jagielka will return to the Everton team as soon as he is fit and ready.
The Blues welcome Crystal Palace to Goodison Park on Wednesday evening, with the Spaniard revealing his captain will again miss out.
Jagielka has been sidelined with a hamstring problem since the game at Chelsea in February, allowing teenager John Stones to deputise for the last eight games.
And with four crucial fixtures coming soon after the midweek clash with the Eagles, Martinez is looking forward to having his skipper back to lead the Toffees into battle.
He said: “Phil is very much fully fit from a medical point of view. He’s not too far away and he’s been working really well this week. But, at the moment, we have the same squad as we had at Sunderland.
“Phil is our Club captain and as soon as he’s ready he’ll go straight back into the team. We need him immensely. He’s been very much influential, even when he hasn’t been on the pitch.
“He’s always had a real presence in the dressing room and had plenty of wise words of advice for the young players in the squad. He’s our Club captain and we need him on the pitch as soon as he can be.”
Asked if Jagielka’s imminent return would give him a selection dilemma in defence, Martinez instead said he’d welcome the luxury of options.
“That’s the type of decision you want as a manager,” he added. “You can never have enough players or players in good moments of form.
“John Stones has been phenomenal. I don’t think his position in the team is going to be based on other players coming back or not. It’s going to be based on how he feels and how his body is coping with this new experience.
“I would love to have that sort of problem of having three or four players in very good moments with great talent playing in the same position.”
Martinez also provided updates on Steven Pienaar and Darron Gibson, both currently out of action with knee injuries.
He said: “Steven is going to take a little bit of time to get back but I expect him to be back very soon, certainly before the season ends.
“Darron is great. I think his knee is stronger than before the injury, which is always a good sign. It’s more about the chain of muscles around the knee and making sure he can cope with football movements. We expect him to join the group next week which is a phenomenal achievement.
“We never expected him to be fully fit before the season ends, so it’s great credit to him and the medical staff.”
Limited tickets (Click to find tickets) for the visit of Palace remain, while the games against Manchester United and Manchester City have already sold out.
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