Kurt Zouma’s foolish actions after the full-time whistle at Watford dealt Marco Silva a problem ahead of Everton’s trip to Cardiff, but there could be a case for James McCarthy making his season debut at centre-back.
The former Republic of Ireland international is yet to play under Silva thanks to a Tibia and Fibula fracture, but the 28-year-old has been fit enough for a spot on the Portuguese’s bench five times since the turn of the year.
As for Zouma, there is no chance the on-loan Chelsea defender can feature against Cardiff as he let frustration get the better of him at Vicarage Road and earned two yellow cards after the final whistle for berating the referee.
There’s no certainty, either, that Yerry Mina or Phil Jagielka will be fit to face the Bluebirds on February 26, as the duo look to return from their respective injuries and will have to prove their fitness before the tie.
Should neither be available for selection, Michael Keane would have no natural partner in defence, and the only other option Silva has utilised, Mason Holgate, is not at Goodison Park at present as he joined West Bromwich Albion on loan last month.
This is where McCarthy can step in, as, despite being 5 foot 9, the Glasgow-born midfielder can add his defensive nous to a backline struggling right now, and his leadership will give those around him a lift while they deal with their personal lapses in form.