MARTIN O’NEILL will be handed a triple boost for tomorrow’s FA Cup quarter-final replay, with Lee Cattermole, Seb Larsson and Phil Bardsley all returning to the fold.
But Sunderland will be without John O’Shea after the experienced defender limped off against QPR on Saturday with a calf strain.
O’Shea had been a doubt to feature at the weekend due to a niggling hamstring problem, which ruled him out of last week’s defeat at Blackburn Rovers.
The 30-year-old former Manchester United centre-back was given the go-ahead to play against the relegation strugglers, but he pulled up midway through the first half with a calf injury.
O’Shea, who had been used at right-back on his return to the team, with on-loan Sotirios Kyrgiakos partnering Michael Turner at centre-half, will now miss tomorrow’s tie against Everton in a blow to Black Cats boss O’Neill, with the Irish international in commanding form since the turn of the year.
But at least O’Neill has players returning, with full-back Bardsley expected to take O’Shea’s spot in the back four after missing Saturday’s encounter through illness.
O’Neill will also have skipper Cattermole back in the fold following the completion of a four-match ban, while Larsson will be included after being rested against QPR.
“Probably for the first time with Lee Cattermole coming back – with the exception of John O’Shea – we’ll have competition for places,” said O’Neill.
“Seb Larsson looked a wee bit tired looking on Tuesday night against Blackburn, so I decided to rest him against Rangers.
“Phil Bardsley was feeling unwell, otherwise he would have wanted to play, but this gave him a chance to rest up and both should be available for the Everton game.
“There’s no need for disappointment though from any of the players if they don’t make the starting line-up because there’s plenty of games coming up and plenty of opportunities for everyone to play their part.”
Ninth-placed Everton stayed level on points with Sunderland on Saturday, winning 2-0 at Swansea with second-half strikes from Leighton Baines and Nikica Jelavic.