Everton Face Defensive Crisis as Centre Back Pair Ruled Out of Apollon Limassol Clash

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Everton are facing something of a defensive crisis ahead of Thursday's Europa League showdown with Apollon Limassol.

Phil Jagielka and Michael Keane were missing from last Saturday's squad for the 2-1 Premier League triumph over Bournemouth, and Ronald Koeman has confirmed to the press (via the Liverpool Echo) that the duo will sit out against the Cypriot side at Goodison Park through injury.

That means that young defender Mason Holgate should continue his partnership at the back with veteran centre-half Ashley Williams, while Under-23s star Morgan Feeney could feature on the bench.

He said: "No (they won't play.) They are doubtful for the weekend. (The rest unavailable are) a list of seven players."

Among that contingent is thought to be James McCarthy, who is yet to play for the Blues this term as he continues to battle back from thigh and knee problems.

Meanwhile, Koeman also called on his newly confident senior stars to continue their recent good form and make it three wins in a row.

Everton suffered a dismal 3-0 defeat to Atalanta in their opening group match in the Europa League two weeks ago, but have bounced back by securing wins over Sunderland and the Cherries in the past seven days.

Koeman admitted that his squad had been buoyed by their recent successes, but stated that a victory against Sofronis Avgousti's men was just as important to get their continental campaign back on track.

He said: “Of course it is really important to play full of confidence. They get it by themselves and through good results. We knew it was a tough start because the pre-season was different than normal.


"I think the win in the last two games against Sunderland and Bournemouth is important. We need to react because the final result in Italy was not the Everton we like.”

Recent matchwinner Oumar Niasse will be unavailable to feature against Apollon in L4, however, after he was not named as part of Koeman's 25-man party for the group stages.

The Dutchman went on to add that a decision about his inclusion was made "a long time ago" and said it could obviously not be changed once the squad had been submitted to UEFA.

Koeman stated: “We had to make that decision a long time ago. At that time his situation was not the situation of now. In life you don’t get a second chance. That decision was made by players not available.”