Roberto Martinez is targeting a new year return for Everton captain Phil Jagielka. The 33-year-old suffered a knee ligament injury in a 2-1 loss to Arsenal in October and was expected to be out for several weeks. Everton have fared well with out the England international, with Ramiro Funes Mori and John Stones performing well over the last month. However, with a tough run of matches against Spurs, Manchester City and Chelsea in January, the Toffees could use their veteran defender.
The ever optimistic Martinez remained cautiously optimistic about Jagielka when speaking to the Liverpool Echo.
It’s difficult to put a timescale on Phil. He’s started off because he hasn’t got the brace and the recovery now needs to be monitored day by day then gradually we need to how quickly we can build him up...I expect him to be back before the end of 2015 which would be a major, major boost.
Defensive depth had been a key issue for Everton over the last few seasons with players like Antolin Alcaraz and Sylvain Distin as the main back-ups to Stones and Jagielka. But the arrival of Funes Mori has been key for Everton and despite his age he has proven to be a capable defender and future starter. Despite Funes Mori's positive play, it will be a huge positive to have an experienced player like Jagielka back in the squad with a tough run of matches quickly approaching.