Everton face a potential defensive injury crisis for the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United at Wembley after Ramiro Funes Mori was sent off in the Merseyside derby defeat to Liverpool. The Argentina international was dismissed in the second half after a dangerous tackle on Divock Origi, who left the pitch on a stretcher with a suspected ankle ligament damage.
John Stones was replaced by Steven Pienaar later in the game due to stomach cramps and will be assessed ahead of the weekend and is adds to a growing Toffees injury list, which already includes Phil Jagielka, Seamus Coleman, Brendan Galloway and Tyias Browning all of whom missed the 4-0 defeat at Anfield through injury. Muhamed Besic and James McCarthy finished the game at centre-back and the make-shift pair could start together in the showcase semi-final.
Midfielder Gareth Barry, making a record-equalling 571st Premier League appearance compounded a torrid evening after being replaced by Besic at half-time, leaving Everton with a wafer-thin squad ahead of their biggest game of the season against a United team who swept aside Crystal Palace aside as they warmed up for Wembley.
Manager Roberto Martinez bemoaned Everton's plight less than 72 hours before facing United, but refused to fully condemn Funes Mori for his horror tackle on Liverpool goal-scorer Origi. "It is a challenge he should be avoiding," he told Sky Sports. "You're getting carried away with the emotion of the derby, maybe the first time Ramiro is involved in this kind of game and he got carried away.
"A red card? I don't know he is trying to challenge for the ball. I can understand the red card. Maybe a yellow card I can understand as well. We didn't cope with the emotions of the occasion and we didn't control ourselves. The referee should not have been given the opportunity to give a red card from our point of view.
"It is such a huge game for us [against United] that probably that is the only good thing; it doesn't need much motivation. Obviously we're still hurting and we we're going to be hurting for a long, long time but obviously we need to react really, really quickly and prepare for the game on Saturday. That is the only way we can get rid of this feeling.
"We're strong enough to react but the problem is the suspension to Ramiro Funes Mori with the injuries we have, with Phil Jagielka already out in that centre-half position. Mo Besic is someone who can play in that role but to lose John Stones, we'll have to assess him, I think it will be more the injuries that we picked up."