JOHNNY HEITINGA held his hand up on Saturday night and admitted he had played his ‘worst ever game’ for Everton.
But boss David Moyes explained that he had no option but to put the out-of-form Dutchman in the firing line with THREE senior right-backs all either injured or unavailable.
Heitinga endured a horror show in the 3-3 draw against Aston Villa.
The Dutch World Cup finalist was culpable for all three Villa goals, just days after he had gifted West Bromwich Albion a goal, too.
Heitinga admitted on his Twitter account after the match that he had let his team-mates and fans down.
“Played worst game ever in the shirt of #Everton. Let teammates and fans down but they never let me down. Will work hard to come back strong,” he tweeted.
With Seamus Coleman and Tony Hibbert injured, and Phil Neville’s recent knee injury rendering the skipper unable to start a third game in seven days, Moyes played Phil Jagielka at right-back and left Heitinga at centre-half.
And he admitted there were precious few alternatives available to him.
“That was the same defence we set up against West Brom,” he said.
“It’s what we’ve got available just now. We’re short because our right backs are injured so we’ve got limited alternatives at the moment.
“I don’t think I’d have done it differently with hindsight, because I had no right-backs fit.
“Phil Neville’s not able to do three games in a week at the moment because of his knee.
“I knew when he played last week and he played on Wednesday we’d struggle to get another game out of him and I’d have been concerned about Agbonlahor’s pace.”
And Moyes was keen not to publicly condemn Heitinga.
“Yeah, but this is someone with 50 or 60 Dutch caps, so he’s a really experienced defender and a really experienced player. He knows that and he knows what he needs to do,” added the Blues boss.
Asked whether Heitinga’s focus was 100 per cent, he went on: “He’s at it. Totally.
“We’ve got the third best defensive record in the league, but we’ve given some cheap ones away this week.
“But we had one of the best defensive records before today, I don’t know how it’s ended up. We’ve improved defensively as it’s gone on and we’ve had a few clean sheets recently but today we didn’t. Today we were poor.”