LONDON (REUTERS) - England defender Phil Jagielka's 11-match absence from the Everton team looks likely to end on Saturday, after coach Roberto Martinez said he was confident the player would be fit for the match against title-chasing Manchester City at Goodison Park.
The news will also be a boost for England manager Roy Hodgson as he does his final preparations for his preliminary 30-man World Cup squad which he is announcing on May 12.
Jagielka has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since January and he could be partnered in defence by Sylvain Distin, who was set to return to training on Thursday, although Martinez said it was too early to say whether the Frenchman would be fit to play.
"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," Martinez told reporters on Thursday. "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."
Distin, meanwhile, missed last weekend's 2-0 defeat at Southampton after injuring his hamstring against Manchester United on April 20.
Everton are currently fifth in the table, four points behind fourth-placed Arsenal with two matches remaining.
Their push for Champions League football next season has effectively been ended by two defeats in their last three matches at home to Crystal Palace and at St Mary's last weekend, either side of a 2-0 home win over Manchester United.