Everton are searching for a second consecutive FA Cup semi final appearance at Wembley against a Wigan side for whom victory would seal a historic first-ever appearance in the last four of the world’s oldest cup competition.
With the prospect of a place in the top four and Champions League football seemingly slowly slipping away from the Toffees, manager David Moyes appears to be having a real stab and winning the cup and bringing his first trophy in 10 full seasons in charge Goodison Park. Indeed, with speculation rising that the Scot could be ready to depart for pastures new at the end of the season, a first trophy for Everton since the mid-1990s could have real ramifications for the future of the Merseyside club.
Moyes will make a late decision on whether to select first-choice goalkeeper Tim Howard again now that the American appears to have recovered from the injury that sidelined him against Reading last week, with Jan Mucha is on standby to deputise. Elsewhere, central-defender Phil Jagielka is ruled out after undergoing knee surgery with experienced Dutchman Jonny Heitinga set to step in alongside Sylvain Distin.
Wigan may currently be preoccupied with preserving their Premier League status for yet another season but boss Roberto Martinez will be aware that after reaching this stage of the cup for the first time in 26 years, the prospect of a historic first Wembley appearance in the last four is a hugely tantalising one for him, the players, the supporters and chairman Dave Whelan.
The Latics could hand a first start in six months to Paraguayan centre-back Antolin Alcaraz, while Adrian Lopez and Ryo Miyaichi are also fit again after hamstring and ankle problems respectively. Callum McManaman and Fraser Fyvie have been prominent features in the club’s cup run this season and Martinez must choose whether to stick with them or plump with the more experienced members of his squad.