REUTERS – Everton manager Roberto Martinez has said he hopes defender Ramiro Funes Mori comes through Argentina’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Brazil and Colombia unscathed.
The Spaniard has three experienced centre-backs in his squad, but with captain Phil Jagielka ruled out till December, an injury to Funes Mori will dampen Everton’s chances of ending their run of eight games in a row without a clean sheet.
Jagielka injured his knee in the 2-1 loss to Arsenal on Oct. 24 and Funes Mori, signed from River Plate for a reported 9.5 million pounds ($14.5 million) in the close season, has played every minute of Everton’s three games since alongside John Stones.
The Toffees, who are ninth in the Premier League table on 17 points, take on last-placed Aston Villa when the league resumes on Nov. 21 after the international break.
“I just hope he can come back fully fit and with a real freshness to be ready for Aston Villa,” Martinez told the club’s website (www.evertonfc.com).
“Playing against Brazil (on Friday) and Colombia (on Tuesday) away from home is going to be … beneficial to him.
“He is growing all the time and has been very impressive with us. He is coping with the Premier League and the demands. His work has been impressive.”
Youngster Brendan Galloway is expected to be available for selection for the Villa game, along with long-term absentees left-back Leighton Baines and midfielder Steven Pienaar.
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(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru. Editing by Patrick Johsnton)