The Blues host top of the league Leicester City on Saturday after the Foxes defeated Chelsea to spell the end of Jose Mourinho’s reign. Wow, there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.
In terms of team news not much has changed to that of the Norwich City game the week before. The manager Roberto Martinez has again said this week that skipper Phil Jagielka is ‘progressing well’ and is expected to make a return before the end of this year. Longstanding members of the Everton injury list; Tony Hibbert and Bryan Oviedo remain out with knee and hamstring injuries, respectively. Tyias Browning’s season has already come to an end after knee surgery following an injury playing for the youth development squad.
The big or rather unexpected news is that Steven Pienaar is back in training. Saturday’s game will come far too soon for the playmaker though for someone who has become rather the forgotten man at Everton. Another forgotten man is Aiden McGeady, who has no reported injury but I wouldn’t expect to see him anytime soon.
At Thursday’s press conference Martinez confirmed John Stones has shaken off both knee and ankle injuries and is completely fit to face in-form Leicester and Jamie Vardy. Finally, James McCarthy will be assessed according to Martinez after starting to run again following his groin injury. Although, many media outlets are reporting that McCarthy won’t start and Tom Cleverley will keep his place in deep midfield.
For the visitors, Claudio Ranieri doesn’t have many players out of Saturday’s clash but it will be the players that will be missing that will concern the Italian. Mainstay Robert Huth received his fifth booking of the season on Monday evening against Chelsea. The German will therefore be suspended and summer signing Yohan Benalouane is expected to replace him.
Unsung hero for the Foxes, Danny Drinkwater is a major doubt after suffering from a muscular injury in that same game. Andy King came on to replace Drinkwater in that 2-1 win and he and Gokhan Inler will be vying for his spot on Saturday. Matthew James has recovered from his long-term injury but is rebuilding his fitness up again slowly. Finally for the table toppers, the pacey Jeffrey Schlupp is missing through a hamstring injury and his manager has now said the winger/full-back could miss another six weeks.