Everton defender Antolin Alcaraz has spoken of his delight at getting the opportunity to replace the recently injured John Stones in the centre of the Toffees defence.
The 32-year-old – who followed manager Roberto Martinez to Goodison from Wigan – has been plagued by injury during his time with the Blues, making just six league appearances in his debut campaign.
However, now fully fit, the Paraguayan is looking forward to stepping up to the plate and will be hoping that his previous injury troubles are firmly behind him.
Speaking on Everton’s official website, Alcaraz said, “I feel great now, I’m really happy with my fitness because last year it was really frustrating, but that’s in the past and now I’m really happy with how my body is reacting.”
Indeed, the player was unable to make his debut until the end of December 2013 due to injury, and the troubles resurfaced repeatedly over the course of the rest of the season.
Yet Martinez will no doubt be confident in his player’s abilities given that he regarded Alcaraz as good enough to make the step up from his old Wigan side. Alcaraz went on to say that he performs to the best of his abilities in training to be ready for when the manager wants him to play.
“I always give my absolute best in training and then the coach will decide,” he said.
“The opportunity [to play] is always going to be there and the important thing is to be ready for that moment.”
The Blues will certainly be hoping that Alcaraz can remain fit for the foreseeable future due to the fact that John Stones’s recent injury will keep him out for at least 10 weeks and 37-year-old Sylvain Distin has only just returned from his own injury.
Problems at the back
The defence has been an area of concern since the start of the season, leaking 16 goals in seven league games. The inability to keep clean sheets has left the club in 17th place in the league, with just one win all season.
With defensive stability being a crucial part of success in the Premier League, Martinez will be hoping that, if called upon, Alcaraz can step up to the line and deliver.