Everton manager Roberto Martinez has hailed centre-back Antolin Alcaraz, ahead of their Premier League date with Southampton.
Alcaraz, 31, has made just three starts for the Merseyside club this league season, and will be paired with John Stones at the back for the first time since January when they visit St Mary's.
The Paraguay international will step up in the absence of Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka, and Martinez had no doubt he would help Everton in their race for a UEFA Champions League spot.
"I think Antolin's biggest strength is his mentality," Martinez told the Liverpool Echo.
"I've seen him many times playing for Paraguay in the worst possible circumstances against the best strikers in world football and he's been able to cope with that with ease.
"He has incredible composure on the ball. I've seen him face Brazilians in the Copa Libertadores. I've seen him score against Italy in the 2010 World Cup which got his country a 1-1 draw.
"He reads the game well, understands the play and he's outstanding in the air. Then he's good in one versus one scenarios so as a defender he has a real advantage on strikers because of those attributes.
"He can come out on top of strikers every time."
Alcaraz was chided for his performance in their 4-0 derby loss to Liverpool, his most recent league appearance.
But Martinez said the former Wigan and Club Brugge man had excuses for his performance.
"Like any player it's important he's 100 per cent on the pitch, and in the derby he wasn't 100 per cent he just put himself forward because of the problems we had at the back," he said.
"That day both our centre-backs weren't really fit but they wanted to help the team and be available.
"Since then we've been able to give him a lot of volume of work and so to have him, with all his experience, for the final three games is a big plus."
Goalkeeper Tim Howard said he trusted the new-look partnership of Alcaraz and Stones, despite their lack of experience together.
"I don't think anyone can deny how well he has played. He has fitted right in like a glove. He is a natural," Howard said of Stones.
"And, of course, with Antolin, his experience speaks volumes. He comes right into a big match, reads the game really well and is so confident and composed on the ball."
|Coach: M. Pochettino|
for S. Gallagher 76'
for A. Lallana 86'
for S. Davis 90'
|Wigan owner Whelan apologises for comments|
|Brown extends Celtic contract|
|Maidstone United 2 Stevenage 1: Seventh-tier outfit spring Cup shock|
|Sheffield United retract Evans offer|
|Blanc confident on Ibrahimovic fitness|
|Bayern Munich v Hoffenheim: Gisdol not expecting advantage from Lahm absence|
|FIFA widens access to Ethics Committee report|
|Brandao appeal rejected by FFF|
|Struggling Bulgaria sack Penev|
|Wigan sponsor quits after Mackay appointment|
|Chelsea v West Brom: Leaders out to maintain perfect home record|
|Falcao still two weeks away from return|
|Arsenal v Manchester United: Van Gaal unsurprised by Welbeck impact|
|Lazio v Juventus: Marchisio ready for tough trip|
|Castan set for brain surgery|
|Paderborn v Borussia Dortmund: Breitenreiter hoping for off-colour visitors|
|Lambert ´annoyed´ by Senderos injury|
|Leicester City v Sunderland: Pearson eager to ´reignite the confidence´|
|Stoke chairman Coates charged with misconduct|
|Manchester City v Swansea City: Monk takes no heart from Pellegrini injury woe|
|Barcelona v Sevilla: No divided loyalties for on-loan duo|
|Blind sidelined by knee injury|
|Verratti unavailable for Metz visit|
|Monaco dealt Kurzawa injury blow|
|Bony rumours will not stop - Monk|
|Pearson confident Leicester can turn their form around|
|Indian Super League Preview: Herbert seeks home comforts, Garcia urges Kolkata focus|
|League One Preview: Ferguson buoyed by McLean return, Bristol City host Preston|
|Newcastle United v QPR: Redknapp out to end hosts´ winning run|
|Bundesliga Preview: Dortmund look to build form, Bayern host Hoffenheim|
|Serie A Preview: Mancini reign to begin with Milan derby|
|Reus fit for Paderborn clash|
|Giroud could be back to face United|
|Milito: Mancini can inspire Inter revival|
|Everton v West Ham: Martinez faced with injury concerns|
|Moussi pledges salary to charity after joining Birmingham|
|Van Gaal questions Coach of the Year nomination|
|Eredivisie Preview: Difficult run continues for struggling Dordrecht|
|Alcacer returns to Valencia with hamstring injury|
|Stoke City v Burnley: Dyche urges bottom side to play with freedom|
|Reid contract delay ´probably down to money´|
|Downing has not blown England chance - Allardyce|
|Ribery not intimidated by Reus rumours|
|Eibar v Real Madrid: Leaders eye 14th win in a row|
|Buffon and Chiellini pen Juve extensions|
|Redknapp: Austin can be great like Ferdinand|
|Moreno targets attacking contribution|
|Martinez dismisses Keane ´nonsense´|
|Lahm undergoes successful ankle surgery|
|J.League Preview: Gamba out to deny Urawa title, Cerezo face Vegalta|
|Atletico Madrid v Malaga: Jimenez targets domestic run after Mexico brace|
|No January transfers for Real, says Ancelotti|
|Pardew compares Newcastle to Bayern Munich|
|Wenger not keen on deeper role for Wilshere|
|Pellegrini not giving up on title|
|I have learned my lesson, says Smalling|
|Mourinho good for Oscar, Willian - Ronaldo|
|Copa Argentina Review: Rosario Central, Huracan poised to meet in final|
|A-League Preview: Winless Wanderers eyeing Jets|
|Ecuadorian Primera A Review: Independiente del Valle still in control|
|Zamora 2 Caracas 1: Costly loss for visitors|
|Atletico Nacional 1 Sao Paulo 0: Ruiz puts Colombians in box seat|
|Sporting switch right option - Nani|
|K. League Preview: Sangju Sangmu desperate for win|
|Barca ´just another game´ - Deulofeu|
|Ligue 1 Preview: Marseille face Bordeaux amid off-field chaos|
|Aldershot 1 Portsmouth 0: Former winners out in first round|
|AFCON Qualifiers Review: Holders Nigeria crash out, Egypt fall short|
|Neuer boost for Bayern|
|Nigeria 2 South Africa 2: Defending champions fail to reach AFCON finals|
|Kick It Out calls for FA response to Mackay appointment|
|Ghana 3 Togo 1: Wakaso shines as Black Stars seal AFCON spot|
|Bony pens Swansea extension|
|League Two Preview: Leaders Luton visit Hasselbaink´s Burton SUBBED SEND THURS|
|Atletico hit by Miranda injury blow|
|Sturridge suffers fresh injury setback|
|Chennaiyin 3 Pune City 1: Hosts go top despite Elano, Mendoza injuries|
|Championship Preview: Mackay begins with tough Boro test|
|Ukraine sanctioned by UEFA for crowd disturbances|
|Metz v Paris Saint-Germain: Champions look to crank up pressure on Marseille|
|Dortmund, Galatasaray fined by UEFA|
|Fletcher fitness boost for Sunderland|
|Wigan turn to Mackay|
|Lennon running the rule over Gudjohnsen|
|Pulis: Shawcross should commit to Wales|
|Thohir: Inter objectives the same for Mancini|
|Sinclair hints at City exit|
|Sandro: QPR are a different team|
|Sammer signs Bayern extension|
|England to face France and Germany|
|Bergara pleased with Moyes impact|
|Western Sydney Wanderers 0 Central Coast Mariners 0: Stalemate in Parramatta|
|Alonso surprised by Neuer quality|
|Valbuena happy with positive French year|
|Shaw hopeful of facing Arsenal|
|Martino: Difficult for Messi to leave Barcelona|
|Conte wants change in Italy preparations|
|La Liga Preview: Moyes, Sociedad visit Deportivo La Coruna|
|More to Rooney than goals, says Hodgson|
|Club before country for Sydney FC marquee Janko|
|I chose to give Silva armband - Neymar|
|Klinsmann: USA have to be ´nastier´|
|Panama 0 Canada 0: Hosts hold on despite red card|
|Peru 2 Paraguay 1: Ascues inspires nine-man hosts|
|Bolivia 3 Venezuela 2: Arce ends long wait for win|
|Chile 1 Uruguay 2: Gonzalez gives visitors late win|
|Deschamps: 2014 positive for France|
|O´Neill praises debutant Christie|
|Low revels in perfect finish to 2014|
|Varane pride after captain´s contribution|
|England´s intensity ´spooked´ us - Strachan|
|Dunga plays down Miranda injury|
|Di Maria, Martino play down injury fears|
|Spain are in transition, says Del Bosque|