I SUSPECT there might be one or two Everton supporters wracked with worry this morning – who would expect anything different on FA Cup quarter finals day?
For the Blues, a home draw with Wigan Athletic – a team fighting for their Premier League lives – represents a fantastic chance of securing a trip to Wembley. Everton are strong favourites, and rightly so.
But they have been dealt a blow with the news that Tim Howard faces a fight to save his season, after sustaining what sounds like a rather painful back injury. Howard’s woes, of course, will thrust Jan Mucha into the Goodison Park spotlight. And perhaps the Slovakian’s presence will serve only to heighten the tension amongst supporters.
That is a little unfair however. Mucha is, don’t forget, an international of some repute and experience. He had very little to do against Reading last weekend, but it will have done him the power of good to get his Premier League debut out of the way.
He has played around half a dozen games for Everton in the past, but he has always come into the side knowing it was, basically, for one game only.
This might be a bit different. David Moyes cannot delve into the loan market, so until Howard is fit, Mucha is his only option. That could incorporate some big games, and he could play a big part in both league and cup between now and the end of the season.
He will have an important role today, against a Wigan side that is capable of creating plenty of chances when they put their minds to it.
The spotlight will shine brightly on both Mucha and John Heitinga, who have had their off days for Everton in the past.
The fact is, however, that international players should be able to step up.
As one of the original founder members of the Football League, Everton are a club steeped in history and tradition and have played more seasons in the top flight of English football than any other club. Their association with the greatest cup competition in the world has thus conjured some wonderful moments, and this offering from Sport Media celebrates a century of memories since their first FA Cup success in 1906. Celebrate a century of memories with 'Everton's FA Cup 100'. Read