Phil Jagielka's misfortune a big opportunity for Everton's Joseph Yobo

By Barry Horne on Apr 30, 09 07:07 AM in Journalists

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I WAS NOT at Goodison Park on Saturday, much as I would have loved to be - if only to witness the reception as the teams ran up the steps onto the pitch.

But I have little doubt that the result was down to a combination of possible fatigue after two massive games and performances in the previous week and the fact that the better face of the Jekyll and Hyde personality that has blighted Manchester City's season - both from the point of view of individuals and therefore the team - turned up on the day.


Instead I was at the Reebok Stadium where I watched Aston Villa struggle to get a draw against Bolton Wanderers, a result that meant Everton's defeat by City was not too damaging in the race for fifth place.

And in respect of the mini-contest between ourselves and Villa I was actually heartened to see just how tired and jaded Villa appeared to be. Martin O'Neill's players had the look of a team that knew they have had a good season but have little left of major consequence to play for and were showing the effects of a tough season on a small squad.

Everton, of course, have had a similar burden to bear with probably greater complications as a result of injuries, but they know they have to maintain the highest levels of performance through to their date at Wembley on May 30.

And I'm hopeful that this different perspective will enable us to finish as the best of the rest as far as the Premier League is concerned.

We will, of course, have to play the remaining five games of the campaign without a serious contender for Goodison Park's Player of the Year - Phil Jagielka, which is a desperate shame for the player whose whole-hearted and unassuming style has won him many, many admirers this season.

He as much as anyone deserved his day in the sun, but that's football and the untimely injury he suffered has happened many times before and will happen many times again in the future.

I'm sure Phil is already thinking not so much about missing the FA Cup final but is rather focusing on the tough months of rehabilitation that lie ahead in order to regain as quickly as possible the magnificent form he's shown throughout this season.

In football, one man's misfortune is often another's opportunity and Everton manager David Moyes, who could never be described as having been fortunate this year, is at least lucky that he has the natural, experienced and quality cover available in the shape of Joseph Yobo, who now has four games to play his way back into top form ahead of the Chelsea clash.

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