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Saturday 27 September K.O. 12:45

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Jags Won't Be Rushed

Skipper won't be rushed back because of Distin injury, says boss.

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Roberto Martinez insists captain Phil Jagielka will not be rushed back because of the injury to Sylvain Distin.

Jagielka hasn't featured for the Blues since the defeat to Chelsea in February and with Distin sustaining an injury at the weekend, Martinez could have only two recognisable centre-halves - John Stones and Antolin Alcaraz - for Saturday's game at Southampton.

But the Blues boss will make sure Jagielka is 100 per cent ready before bringing him back, with the game against title-chasers City on 3 May his likely return date.

Martinez told evertontv: "Phil Jagielka has got his own programme and it is important that we follow that and we don't rush him back.

"He has been involved with the first team training now and that is a really good sign. We want Phil back as quick as we can but not because we have got an injury with Sylvain.

"We aren't going to rush and do the wrong things in his individual programme.

"Phil is going to be fully fit very soon and I do expect that he will probably be able to make the squad against Manchester City and that's always been the plan. I do believe that we will be able to reach that."

Alcaraz replaced Distin at half time during the win over Manchester United and Martinez was impressed with the Paraguayan's performance.

"Everything he did, it was with a real control," he added. "His composure on the ball was second to none and in the air he won absolutely everything.

"Even in the opposing box he always looked a threat and he is someone who has been working really well and I am so pleased that he has been able to put a lot of volume in his body and it seems he is a fresh player who is ready to step in and help the team which is phenomenal to have.

"It was as difficult test as you're going to get, coming in when the team is winning and controlling the game comfortably.

"As a centre half, you're going to have to deal with a lot of pressure, a lot of attack-minded players that Man United were going to throw forward and I thought he was magnificent."

Martinez also revealed that both Steven Pienaar and Darron Gibson have both stepped up their programmes and are progressing well but there is not yet a specific return date in mind for either player.

"I think at the moment it is great to see Stevie and Darron stepping up their recovery but at the moment it is quite difficult to tell when they are going to be available," explained the Blues boss.

"I wouldn't like to put any pressure on their individual situations to see how quickly they can get back into the squad and try to help the team. It is important that when the players are fully fit, then they are allowed to come into the squad."

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