PHIL JAGIELKA has warned his influential Everton team-mate Tim Cahill not to put his foot in it in what’s left of this season.
Cahill made a welcome return to the Blues senior side at Old Trafford on Saturday, when his introduction at half-time helped spark a significant improvement.
But after more than a month on the sidelines with a foot injury, Jagielka warned that Cahill is still not a hundred per cent pain-free and may have to be used sparingly in the four games which remain.
Jagielka said: “It’s great to have Tim back but I don’t think he’s fully fit. I think he’s still got a little bit of pain in his foot.
“But the squad’s not the biggest at the moment and sometimes we might need him to come off the bench. We’ll have to play it by ear and see how much he can play between now and the end of the season.
“It’s not just his play, it’s his character in the changing room. Hopefully Mikel’s close to coming back as well so it might be a little bit brighter for the last couple of games of the season.”
Jagielka’s own form was outstanding at Old Trafford and the defender admitted: “My form’s getting better and my body’s feeling a little more normal than it has done for a while.
“It’s been a topsy turvy season and I’m looking forward to finishing it as strongly as we can, but beyond that I’m also looking forward to coming back next season and seeing where we go from there.”
Everton go to Wigan next Saturday and Jagielka said: “We’re confident, even though it will obviously be another tough away match. We still have the confidence we built up from the run before the Manchester United game, and we’ve got Tim coming back and Victor coming on at half-time.”
Everton under-18s, meanwhile, go head to head with Liverpool this afternoon, hoping that their band of local boys can overcome the Reds cosmopolitan stars and land a place in the Premier Academy League play-offs.
The young Toffees currently lie second in the Group C league table behind Liverpool on goal difference – although the Reds have two games in hand.
The young Blues have two matches remaining and Academy coach Neil Dewsnip said: “It is fair to say we need to win both games and we need Liverpool to drop points somewhere else in their remaining matches.
“This is the third time in four years we’ve been in the last week of the season and we’ve been close to winning our section, so hopefully third time lucky.
“Liverpool are very strong. They have invested a lot of money in players from Europe and all over Britain.
“We tend to be the other way round as our players tend to be local. We’ve got different philosophies but we’re getting similar results.”
The winners of each of the four regional Premier Academy League sections go through to the semi-finals and the next step towards the national title.