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Stoke City (A) Wed 4 Mar 2015, 19:45, Barclays Premier League


Roberto Martinez remains optimistic that Phil Jagielka will be fit enough to play against Manchester City this weekend.

Speaking on Thursday morning, Martinez said he was ‘quite confident’ the England defender can end his 11-match absence when Manuel Pellegrini’s title contenders visit Goodison Park.

The Blues boss also revealed that Sylvain Distin is set to return to training on Thursday, though it is still too early to say whether the Frenchman will be available for Saturday’s 5.30pm kick-off.

Distin sat out last weekend’s trip to Southampton with the hamstring injury sustained in the 2-0 victory over Manchester United on April 20.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Martinez said: “Sylvain came off with a soft tissue problem against Manchester United. He’ll train today and we will assess him to see how he is.

“It’s very important that Sylvain finishes the season but it’s difficult to say whether he will be involved at the weekend at this stage.

“Phil Jagielka has been recovering well and the plan was always for him to be in the squad for Manchester City, and we are hoping that is going to be the case.

“The work that he has done so far shows me that he will be ready for the weekend. I’m quite confident that will be the case.”

Martinez was handed a boost earlier in the week when injury fears over Leighton Baines were allayed after the left-back was forced from the field at St Mary’s last Saturday.

The Spaniard was also able to report good news on Steven Pienaar who has returned to training after spending nearly two months on the sidelines with a knee cartilage problem.

The Manchester City game will come too soon for the South African but Martinez is hopeful that the winger will be available for selection for Everton’s final game of the campaign at Hull City a week on Sunday.

Martinez continued: “Stevie P is back with the first team. He won’t be available this weekend but we are trying to see if he can be involved in the final squad because it would be a great way to finish the season.”

In addition to Pienaar, Darron Gibson and Arouna Kone , Lacina Traore , Bryan Oviedo and Kevin Mirallas will all miss Saturday’s game.

Live commentary of the game with Ian Snodin and Darren Griffiths will be available here from around 5.25pm on Saturday evening.

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