Everton will be without full-back Seamus Coleman for the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United at Wembley, but manager Roberto Martinez is "positive" that fellow-defender John Stones will be available.The England centre-back was substituted during the 4-0 Merseyside derby defeat to Liverpool at Anfield with stomach cramps and faces a late fitness test along with Phil Jagielka and Gareth Barry.
Jagielka missed the last three games with a hamstring injury, while Barry went off at half-time in mid-week with a groin problem, and was replaced by Muhamed Besic. The Toffees are also without Ramiro Funes Mori, who serves the first game of a three-match ban after his sending off for a tackle on Divock Origi.
One positive for Martinez, ahead of the clash with United, is Tom Cleverley, Aaron Lennon and Leighton Baines, who each returned from respective injuries against Liverpool, came through the game unscathed and are available to take on Louis van Gaal's side. Martinez however faces an anxious wait over three senior players which could lead to him naming a make-shift and inexperienced back-four
"Seamus Coleman will be missing the semi-final," Martinez told a pre-match press conference to preview the United game. "We are going to have late fitness tests with Phil Jagielka, Gareth Barry and John Stones. We are quite positive about John. Ramiro will be missing through suspension. But I think the squad is almost as it is now. Tom Cleverley, Aaron Lennon and Leighton Baines came through [the Liverpool game] ok and they should be fine.
"It is hard to tell [if Jagielka is ready]. Physically I wouldn't expect Phil Jagielka to be fit. Since the injury it has only been a short period of time. In any case you need more time but knowing Phil he wants to try everything possible to be available. We're not going to say now we're going to go along and treat his feelings rather than the injury and we'll see how that shapes up before the game."
The absence of Funes Mori and concern over Jagielka has led to Everton recalling 21-year-old defender Matthew Pennington from a spell at Barnsley, which was due to run until the end of the season. Besic partnered midfielder James McCarthy at the heat of the back-four for much of the season half at Anfield and Martinez could be forced into a similar move against United.
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher was among the critics of Funes Mori's actions both before and after his sending off following a tackle on Origi which could both curtail his domestic season and end hopes of playing at the summer's European Championships. The Argentina international has subsequently apologised after his conduct, which saw him pay tribute to supporters as he left the field, but Martinez says there will be no further action from the club.
"Obviously I had a conversation with Ramiro but the proximity of the semi-final, the preparation has been about the next game," he added. "We spoke about it and how to make that challenge a little bit better but that is water under the bridge now and we've moved on from it. For us as a team it was a really tough moment.
"We are in a difficult situation in the game and we go down to 10 men, you can imagine that is not the sort of incident that you want the referee to make a decision on. From that point on it is very much moving quickly and preparing for the next game and the proximity of the next game is too close to dwell on that. We have dealt with it and we are moving on."