Everton can move within one point of Sam Allardyce’s high flying Hammers as the Blues look to put right the frustrating draws with Swansea at Goodison and Sunderland at the Stadium of Light last time out.
The Blues will assess the fitness of seven first team players prior to facing West Ham United.
Roberto Martinez describes Roy Keane’s comments about EFC pressuring players not to play for their countries as “nonsense.”
Martinez On Injuries: Seven Players To Be Assessed
Everton boss Roberto Martinez faced the press this morning and revealed no less than seven first team players will be assessed on fitness prior to the visit of fourth placed West Ham United.
Of those seven Gareth Barry remains the greatest doubt after a dangerously late challenge by Jodi Gomez at the Stadium of Light left the midfielder suffering with ankle ligament damage.
Martinez is hopeful Leighton Baines, who pulled out of the England squad last Friday, and James McCarthy who like Barry left Sunderland carrying an injury, will have both recovered from grade 1 hamstring strains in time to face Sam Allardyce’s high-flying hammers.
The Blues boss also reported both Steven Pienaar and Kevin Mirallas have been training with the first team squad and they, alongside Darron Gibson (knee) and Seamus Coleman, who played for Ireland with five stitches in an ankle injury, will be given every chance to make the squad for Saturday’s Goodison Park clash.
Martinez also moved to set the record straight on the comments made in the press by Ireland’s assistant manager Roy Keane. The ex-Manchester United midfielder had questioned the desire of both Martinez and Everton FC to release players on international duty.
“It was nonsense,” said Martinez.
“We have got a good relationship with the manager Martin O’Neill and we are in touch frequently and we share information.
“This club is very proud when our players represent their country and the record shows that. Since I’ve been at the club 18 players have represented their countries with over 140 caps and that is something we are very proud of.
A lot has been said and a lot has been nonsense. The relationships between the manager’s of the associations and this club have been good and they will continue to be good.”
Watch: Roberto Martinez’s Press Conference
Meanwhile, another long-term absentee, John Stones, has revealed his recuperation from the ankle ligament injury suffered vs Man Utd in October is going well and the young England defender is planning a return to first team action between Christmas and January. Talking in the Liverpool Echo, Stones’ says he is over the worst and working towards a return sooner rather than later.
“It’s the first injury I’ve had. But I’m in there every day so it passes quickly. I’m over the worst of it now.
“It’s hard for the lads getting these little niggles. But we have a strong squad and we’ve got a lot of defenders in the same position at the moment.
“We have a strong enough squad to deal with that.
“Hopefully I’ll be back between Christmas and January. I don’t want to rush it so I’ll just see how it goes. But every day is better it feels better.
“I hate watching games. It brings back memories from when I first came, watching from the stands. It’s hard but it’s good to see the lads getting results.”