Everton manager Roberto Martinez has said England defender Phil Jagielka could be out for “eight or nine weeks” with a knee injury.
England international Jagielka, 33, picked up the injury in the 2-1 loss at Arsenal on Saturday and although Martinez was pleased his knee cartilage and cruciate ligament remain unaffected, the Spaniard could be without his centre-back for the next two months.
“I wouldn’t expect anything longer than eight to nine weeks,” Martinez said when asked about the defender’s recovery timetable.
Jagielka was hurt as a result of an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain challenge, which was described as “stupid” and “needless” by Martinez.
Jagielka and striker Romelu Lukaku are the only players to have started every game in all competitions this season, but the former will need to replaced in the line-up for Norwich’s visit to Goodison Park in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday.
Martinez confirmed Joel Robles will start in goal in place of Tim Howard, as he did in the last round, while Gareth Barry’s late dismissal against the Gunners rules him out through suspension – meaning three of the squad’s most experienced members will not play on Tuesday.
“It’s a huge miss,” Martinez said of Jagielka’s absence.
“This campaign we’ve had to cope with many injuries already, especially in the back four. You rely on certain leaders to allow young players to come in and be able to perform. Phil Jagielka’s role in that has been immense and probably that’s what will be missed.
“You don’t want to lose your captain, you don’t want to lose an influential player, but that happens in a season – you get injuries, you get suspensions and you have to cope with that.
“As a team we’ve got other senior players who can take over that role and that influence and that’s what we need to show on Tuesday.”
Jagielka’s injury will likely open the door for Ramiro Funes Mori to partner John Stones at the heart of defence for an extended period, with the Argentinian having made just two starts since joining from River Plate this summer.
Martinez is confident the 24-year-old can grasp the opportunity Jagielka’s injury has presented him.
“He’s had a good period now to settle in, to understand the team-mates, the way we want to play and the league itself,” Martinez said.
“I thought he was so impressive in all the roles he had to take from playing in the League Cup, from having to perform in a Merseyside derby, from having to come on in a difficult moment against the league leaders. I’ve been very, very impressed with him.
“I think he’s ready. He’s someone with an incredible, brave attitude – very commanding.”