Everton and England defender Phil Jagielka is backing Tim Cahill to leave the club in a safe position before he links up with Australia for the 2011 Asian Cup.
Cahill has been one of the few positives in a disappointing first half to the English Premier League season for Everton.
Instead of building on four successive top-eight finishes, the Merseyside club are at the wrong end of the table and start Saturday’s home match with relegation candidates Wigan just two points above the bottom three.
Yet midfielder Cahill has been in sparkling form, scoring eight of his team’s 18 league goals, and manager David Moyes has admitted he will be badly missed when he departs.
The 31-year-old Sydney-born player is set to miss three league games, including the Merseyside derby at Liverpool on January 16, and, if Everton overcome Scunthorpe in the third round, two FA Cup ties while he is away with Australia in Qatar.
Cahill’s absence is a major blow to Everton, but Jagielka is confident the former Millwall man can continue his scoring burst before he departs for the Middle East.
“Luckily for us Tim has done really well and kept us going with his goals, but we are all frustrated,” said Jagielka, capped seven times by England.
“Hopefully he gets all of his goals out of his system before he goes.
“But we can’t look too far into the future and worry about January, the present is what we need to focus on.
“We can just hope that when he comes back he is rejuvenated as ever, has his spark and picks up again where he’ll leave off.”
Buford Balony says: As long as Jagielka is happy, that’s all that matters.