Everton look to Jagielka as defender crisis mounts

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Everton manager David Moyes will monitor Phil Jagielka's fitness in the hours leading up to the Europa League match against Sporting Lisbon.

However, Moyes will have little hesitation in throwing the defender into the fray even though he has not played any reserve matches after recovering from a knee injury.

Everton are short of defensive options with Sylvain Distin, John Heitinga and Tony Hibbert all absent. With Phillipe Senderos also struggling with a back problem, Jagielka could be drafted in as Everton aim to build on a 2-1 advantage.

Moyes said: "I have a lot of confidence in the boy. He is a really good player and we have missed him a lot. Obviously he has not had any games but sometimes needs must. We will see."

Club captain Phil Neville insists Jagielka will cope.

He said: "Even if you play three or four reserve games it is still hard to come into Premier League or European games.

"Sometimes it is best to come straight back into it like I did, rather than worry about it.

"It is perhaps better to be thrown in the deep end. He will probably be nervous but adrenaline will get him through.

"Phil is an old-fashioned type, who knows his strengths. I have no worries about him."

Everton go into the match on the back of a victory against Manchester United and as one of England's form teams.

They have lost only two games in 13 in all competitions and Moyes added: "We are a lot stronger than we were a few months ago. While we enjoyed the victory against Manchester United, the next game is the most important. This is a competition I would like to do well in and we want to go as far as we can."

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