Martinez: Heitinga or Stones could replace Distin

    First choice centre-half Distin  is a doubt for the opening home  game of the season after picking  up the problem at Norwich, and  Everton boss Roberto Martinez believes Heitinga is a  strong stand-by option if the  Frenchman does not recover in  time.

    He said: “Of course it’s hard to  keep John happy. The moment  you’ve got a player who is happy  not playing then you really do  have a problem.

    “John has been fantastic with  his work and the way he’s been  fighting for his place. He brings  something completely different to  the squad and I’m glad he’s here  working the way he does.

    “He is vastly experienced and  comes from a background which I  really love, that is the Dutch way  of playing. I see Johnny as  somebody who can play a couple  of different roles.

    “He’s always a big influence,  whether he’s playing games or  not Johnny is a good influence on  the standards daily here and our  youngsters can pick up a lot from  him.

    “From my point of view it’s  been a real joy to work with  Johnny.”

    Heitinga admitted in May that  his future on Merseyside  remained in doubt after losing his  place last season, and hinted that  the club could look to cash in on  him.

    But Martinez is grateful he has  the mix of experience and  youthful promise in reserve  provided by Heitinga and  19-year-old John Stones – who  could also be an outsider to  potentially replace Distin against  West Brom tomorrow.

    “John Heitinga gives you a  different prospect than John  Stones,” he added. “John is a  young man with a very bright  future ahead of him but they are  very different players. It will be  about seeing what we need on the  day and how the players train.”

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