Everton injury crisis mounts as defender Jagielka ruled out by knee injury
Everton are facing an injury crisis with England defender Phil Jagielka the biggest name among four key absentees.
Jagielka could be sidelined for up
to a month after scans showed that he had damaged medial
ligaments in his right knee during Wednesday night's 2-1 defeat against Bolton.
Concern: Everton's Phil Jagielka, left, limps off against Bolton
Though initial fears that the injury could be something more serious were unfounded, Jagielka – who left Goodison Park on crutches – will be absent for a crucial period of Everton's season, starting with Saturday's FA Cup tie with Tamworth.
Just as significantly, though, manager David Moyes will also be without other influential performers Leon Osman, Tony Hibbert and Jack Rodwell for the foreseeable future.
Osman, who has been one of Everton's best performers this season, has a knee problem, which forced him to be substituted against Bolton.
Right-back Hibbert sustained a significant groin injury in the same game and could be out for as long as Jagielka, while Rodwell's latest setback could not have come at a worse time.
The England midfielder, who is wanted by Chelsea, has endured a number of fitness issues since making an impressive step up to Fabio Capello's squad for the November friendlies against Sweden and Spain.
Rodwell damaged his rib against Sweden, then subsequently damaged his hamstring in training. He suffered another setback before the game against Norwich on December 17.
Injury hit: Everton's Jack Rodwell
He returned against West Brom on New Year's Day but had to be substituted after coming on to replace Jagielka against Bolton. In total, he has only played for 103 minutes since November 15.
Moyes has brought Republic of Ireland defender Shane Duffy back from Scunthorpe to provide cover for John Heitinga and Sylvain Distin in Jagielka's absence but Everton's squad is stretched to breaking point. The only positive is the imminent return of Marouane Fellaini from a groin problem.
Everton were dismal against Bolton and goalkeeper Tim Howard, who scored a freak goal from 90 yards, admitted the performance was 'unacceptable'.
He added: 'We need to look at ourselves in the mirror because it wasn't good enough, we were all kind of lost for words.'