PHIL JAGIELKA will be absent as Everton aim to secure a return to Wembley this weekend.
Jagielka has been sidelined for at least a fortnight after suffering a badly-gashed ankle in Saturday’s 3-1 Premier League win over Reading at Goodison.
The centre-back spent Saturday night in hospital having the injury stitched up having been caught by a late challenge by Reading striker Adam le Fondre just minutes into the match.
Jagielka has to allow the injury to heal, and that means sitting out Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final visit of Wigan Athletic along with the following week’s visit of champions Manchester City.
The 30-year-old is also now a major doubt for England’s World Cup qualifying double header in San Marino and Montenegro later this month.
It’s not the first time Jagielka’s FA Cup participation has been affected by injury, with the defender missing the final in 2009 with serious knee damage and playing only nine minutes of last season’s run to the semi-final.
Meanwhile, Darron Gibson is hopeful he can avoid surgery this summer as he continues to be troubled by a niggling thigh complaint.
Gibson has twice missed lengthy spells this season due to the problem, but returned to the first-team at the end of January.
Everton manager David Moyes revealed last week the Republic of Ireland international could require an operation at the end of the season to rectify the problem.
But Gibson said: “Fingers crossed it won’t need an operation in the summer. I don’t really want to talk about it too much.
“I’m just managing it at the minute. I’m happy enough. I’m comfortable playing.”
Despite still challenging for a Champions League berth, Everton have kept only four clean sheets in 28 Premier League this season.
And although the Goodison side recorded successive 3-1 wins inside five days last week, Gibson admitted: “It’s been damaging the amount of goals we’ve conceded, but this week the attacking side overpowered the defensive side.
“It was frustrating not to get the clean sheet but we created a lot of chances and could have had a lot more goals. If you look at the game as a whole I think our attacking was a lot better than it has been lately.
“It was a great result and we needed it after the last few results. We’ve conceded too many goals and it was unfortunate to concede another one, but I thought we deserved the win and played well.”