John Heitinga - The forgotten one

Lars Baron

After a solid start to the season, with only a few slip ups at the back, John Heitinga has seen himself pushed to the very back seat of the subs bench.

The Dutch international centre back has been out of favour for the best part of seven months now at Goodison, including three of those months under David Moyes' reign.

Heitinga who turned 30 this week, has gone from the 'new Lee Carsley' and Player of the Year to well, the reserve player he is now. He is still a favourite among a number of Everton fans, mainly for his 'geeing up' of the crowd than his footballing ability unfortunately, but is he all that bad?

Well if I 'm honest having Heitinga at centre back has never really filled me with huge confidence, his panicky and erratic style makes me nervous watching him. However, we must also look at the positives. He is a natural experienced leader and in two games as captain under Moyes, one in the Capital One Cup and the following weekend in the Premier League, he performed his duties well well. The players followed his lead and we looked solid and very difficult to break down.

The next positive is he isn't going to stand there and allow people to trick and weave their way into a goal scoring position without making a tackle. He is physically strong, doesn't hold back and throws in many a strong tackle, shaking up numerous strikers - most notably Gabriel Agbonlahor against last season, which saw the Villa man later hobble off.

Unfortunately that side of his game is often accompanied by his occasional lapses in concentration, which explains why he is on the bench. Being a centre half at the top end of English football, Heitinga must have 100% concentration throughout the full 90 minutes. But, infuriatingly, he switches off, or goes wandering out of position and forgets he isn't quick enough to make the ground up.

I personally feel Johnny makes it hard for himself, he marks his man too loosely and often allows them to turn or gain ground on him. If he got that little bit closer it almost eliminates the opportunity for the striker to turn.

When on the ball he is risky to say the least, appearing almost too relaxed and under the impression he is a ball playing centre half. Sometimes you just want to see him get it and get rid almost in the same movement.

It is unsurprising therefore that Roberto Martinez prefers the more reliable pairing of Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin who will always be first choice barring injury.

Captain or not you will always see Johnny taking the lead at the back, providing good cover and aerial support. He maintains his position in the Dutch side and I'm sure will be hoping for a bit of playing time before next year's World Cup. Holland must see something we don't always see, either that or they selection on centre halves is minimal. But credit to Johnny he hold that position and is held in a high regard back home.

People say to me "Why not play him in the middle of midfield" well my answer is who would you drop? Barry? McCarthy? Osman? Barkley? I doubt it.

As much as I really want Johnny to play he just isn't good enough to be chosen over any of those at the moment and the form of Jags and Distin means his hopes of first-team football are slim.

We know he cares and I'd never question the lads commitment and he wears his heart on his sleeve, I like that in a footballer. But with his contract up at the end of the season it looks increasingly likely he will be leave on a lucrative free transfer, unless Everton can sort out a cut-price deal in January.

Despite his all but inevitable departure I hope he is given a Chance in a Cup game down the line and could also prove to be vital cover during the busy Christmas and New Year period.

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