Everton captain Phil Jagielka is confident they will find a way to cope without injured left-back Leighton Baines.
The England defender has been ruled out for up to six weeks with a broken bone in his right foot and his absence leaves a huge hole on the left side of the Toffees’ defence.
Baines has played every minute of Everton’s last 51 Barclays Premier League games so his unavailability for Saturday’s visit of Stoke will bring a degree of unfamiliarity to a defence which has traditionally prided itself on being a tight unit.
“Bainesy has probably missed three or four games with a slight hamstring strain over the last five years and the left-back slot has always been done blindfolded when the manager has come to write the teamsheet,” Jagielka said.
“When someone does get injured and you are going to miss him from between one and six weeks there is going to be a little bit of to-ing and fro-ing with who is going to play.
“We’ve been fortunate that we have not had to do that so far so we will look at the positives in that respect and deal with what’s to come.
“I’m sure the manager will enjoy the challenge of coming up with the right personnel and formation to play against Stoke to come away with the three points.
“Bryan Oviedo wasn’t in the squad (last weekend) but he will obviously be an option. Sylvain Distin could possibly play there, as could Gaz (Gareth Barry) and Seamus Coleman. We just have to wait and see.”
Jagielka has personal experience of breaking a bone in his foot two years ago and while he played through it thanks to a series of pain-killing injections he understands Baines’ injury is slightly more complicated.
“I’ve spoken to him and he is hobbling around a little bit now,” he told evertontv.
“I saw at half-time (in Saturday’s 3-3 draw against Liverpool) that he was struggling to put his boot on.
“I’ve broken a little toe myself and it is painful but unfortunately he has broken one in the middle so it’s in more of an awkward place.
“There’s a possibility that once he goes for another X-ray after the swelling has gone down that it won’t be as bad but, as a rule of thumb, bones take a little while to mend.
“Whether he can mask the pain and get through it while the bone heals, we will have to wait and see.
“He will be a big miss but it gives opportunities to other players in the squad to stake their claim.”