THREE on-form Everton central defenders will vie for just two places in the team on Saturday, but Stuart McCall cannot help hoping one man in particular makes the Wembley cut.
McCall played alongside Phil Jagielka at Sheffield United, as the ex-Everton midfielder was nearing the end of his playing career, and he still considers the England international a friend.
Even though McCall rates John Heitinga and Sylvain Distin highly, he feels only one of them should start against Kenny Dalglish's side – alongside his former Blades team-mate.
“I was 38 when I went to Sheffield United and I was beginning to feel it,” he says. “Fortunately there were some great young lads like Michael Tonge and Jags there. Phil was right-back then and always did well.
“We beat Leeds in the League Cup when he was only 18 and he smashed a belter in. After I retired he moved into central midfield and I joked with him I had to hang up my boots for him to get a go there.
“But he was great. A box to box midfielder and in the Championship he was solid and comfy there, although his strengths always seemed best at the back.”
McCall believes Jagielka’s intelligence set him apart from others.
“We would do set piece practices in training and even when he was young he’d say his part, and come up with input which was worth listening to,” he says.
“He knew the game properly and reads it even better now. I was delighted when he got his move to Everton and always suspected that once he’d settled down, he had every chance of playing for his country.
“Liverpool have got some excellent players in Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez, and I’d back Jags to handle them. He’s got the pace you need and he has plenty of big game experience now too.”