Everton's hopes of an upturn in form and fortunes have been set back by the news that key players Phil Jagielka and Mikel Arteta have had further surgery on their injured knees.
Not before Christmas
Neither central defender Jagielka nor playmaker Arteta has appeared for Everton this season, but both were due to train this week until the Toffees' injury curse struck again to rule the pair out until Christmas at the earliest. Jagielka, 27, has undergone a second operation after sustaining a cartilage tear in the same left knee in which the England international ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament in April. The injury caused Everton's player of last season to miss their FA Cup final defeat by Chelsea FC.
Yet more surgery
Spanish midfielder Arteta, 27, has endured similar frustration after requiring a third procedure on the right knee in which he ruptured a cruciate ligament in February. Everton's No10 had to have a second operation in September because of a problem with the stitches in his knee, before an infection prompted the latest intervention this week. Everton manager David Moyes said: "Jagielka had an operation on a tear in his meniscus. We think he will be out for probably four to six weeks. Mikel has needed to have a wash-out on his knee. It is a setback."
Litany of woes
Victor Anichebe is also struggling with complications to a serious knee injury incurred in February while fellow 21-year-old striker James Vaughan recently underwent cartilage surgery. Blues captain Phil Neville and midfield schemer Steven Pienaar have also been sidelined with knee injuries since September, although both could be back for the Premier League trip to Manchester United FC on 21 November. Another midfielder, Leon Osman, has been absent with a chipped bone in his foot since October.
Everton have lost back-to-back UEFA Europa League games against SL Benfica but remain second in Group I. In the Premier League, last term's fifth-placed side are down in 13rd position, two points above the relegation places going into the weekend matches.
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