Everton boss Roberto Martinez started his weekly press conference by detailing the current injury situation at Goodison:
“Midfielder James McCarthy will be assessed before the game against the Premier League leaders and will return for the festive period,” said the Spaniard.
Meanwhile, there was excellent news on his majestic young England centre back. John Stones injured his ankle against Norwich last weekend but the boss says that he had no after effects and is fit to play.
At this time of the year many Everton fans hide behind the sofa as the media mercilessly links their leading lights with moves away from the club.
Ross Barkley has been in the rumour mills for years and there was furious hype in the summer about John Stones. More recently, Everton’s hotshot striker Romelu Lukaku has been on the lips of those mongers of rumour. But, as usual, Martinez did his best to bat away the nonsense as well as admitting that he is in the market:
“I understand it is part of the transfer period and will become a fresh topic,”
“Our position is clear, we won’t lose any of the top performers we have this season. January is an opportunity to see if we can bring anyone in.
“It is not the right time to bring players in who can help you in a major way, it is about filling the gaps but the squad that we have is strong in numbers and we want to keep it together.”
In general, the boss was upbeat about the status quo even though results have been patchy of late:
“As disappointed as we are in the amount of points we have dropped in the last few games, we have seen fantastic signs in the attacking play.
“Now is a period where we need the support of the fans and everyone to develop. If we do that, then we will get the points we deserve. That is fantastic for us and our performances have been very consistent.”
He then moved on to the Leicester game at the weekend and praised Claudio Ranieri and his men:
“Leicester deserve to be top of the league and are a team who have been very dynamic,”
“They have goals but also the spirit and togetherness. Claudio Ranieri deserves all the credit for developing the belief so we are facing a side that are top and we have to be at our best.
And can they win the league Roberto?
“Of course Leicester are genuine title contenders – they have been so competitive in every game. I have seen a real change, the first few games they were just seeing how they could compete and now they come out knowing they can win games. They are capable of achieving anything this season.”
Not sure about that but we shall see how things look when they start to get the key injuries that every team seems to suffer at some stage in a gruelling Premier League season. But who would have thought they would lead the table coming up to the half way stage?
With all this in mind, how about this for a starting XI on Saturday (Goodison Park, Kick Off 15:00 GMT)?