Moyes hails defensive options

Heitinga earns praise as Jagielka prepares for reserve outing

John Heitinga: Impressive at the back for Everton in Phil Jagielka's absence

Phil Jagielka: Set to play for reserves after recovering from knee injury

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Phil Jagielka is set to return to action for Everton's reserves but he will face a fight to get back into the first team after David Moyes heaped praise on John Heitinga.

Jagielka has been sidelined for a couple of months with a knee injury sustained in the clash with Bolton, but is now ready to step up his comeback by turning out for the second string against Liverpool on Tuesday.

He will then be pushing for a recall to Moyes' side, and the manager is delighted about the prospect of having another top-quality defender at his disposal.

Heitinga has enjoyed a run of games at centre-back in Jagielka's absence and has helped Everton enjoy a period of decent form in the Premier League and FA Cup.

While he approaches the game in a different way to Jagielka, Moyes has been impressed by the Dutchman's contribution and feels he deserves wider recognition.

"Johnny has done well in the last couple of months," Moyes said in The Times.

"You look at the game between England and Holland, and the quality of the Dutch players, and maybe you don't give him as much credit as he deserves.


"To have 75 caps for Holland is an outstanding tally by anybody's standard.

"He is a different type of centre-back to Jagielka. It shows you there are other ways to play the role.

"Johnny is very composed and has a great knowledge and reading of the game.

"I remember when Johnny came and he was getting cramp in every game. He probably couldn't understand the speed, it takes a bit of time to adapt, but his credentials are very good.

"I always thought we had competition for places. Jagielka was the man in possession, so we'll see. We are going to need them all."