Dec 052014

Antolin Alcaraz’s return represents a major boost for Everton FC , says Roberto Martinez .

The Paraguayan defender has missed the last six games since dislocating his shoulder against Swansea City at the beginning of November.

But, after receiving news the injury did not require an operation, the Blues boss has declared the 32-year-old fit for action around one week ahead of schedule.

“It is a real boost,” said Martinez. “Antolin should be available for selection on Saturday. He is available probably a week ahead of when we expected him to be back.

“When those injuries require an operation it is a longer period, but we were all pleased when the specialist decided to go down this route.

“He has trained extremely well and we have been assessing him day-by-day to see how well he has been recovering. I think he is now ready to help the team – maybe not ready to play 90 minutes, but he’s someone who can help us and will be there for us on Saturday.

“He was in good form before he got injured so to have him back well ahead of schedule is important. It’s a period when we’ll need everyone.”

Everton’s Antolin Alcaraz (left) and Swansea City’s Wilfried Bony battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match at Goodison Park, Liverpool.

Meanwhile, Martinez is having to plan without the trio of Steven Naismith , James McCarthy (both hamstring) and Darron Gibson (knee) for the game against Manuel Pellegrini’s side, while John Stones is continuing to recover from ankle ligament damage.

Bryan Oviedo and Arouna Kone are also unlikely to feature at the Etihad Stadium despite both scoring for Everton’s Under-21s against Sunderland on Monday.

The Blues boss added: “We’re still very similar to where we were on Wednesday. I doubt that Steven Naismith, James McCarthy and Darron Gibson will be fit for the weekend.

“Arouna Kone and Bryan Oviedo were obviously involved in the game at Goodison with the Under-21s, which was great news.

“John Stones is progressing well. He is still a little bit away from being fully fit but there are very good vibes around the rehab he has been doing.”

With Everton’s defence appearing weary after the side’s recent exertions, Martinez explained how close he believes young prospects Tyias Browning and Brendan Galloway are to being ready to start top flight games.

“Tyias is ready,” he said. “He showed that when he came on in two of the hardest away games you’ll get in the league at Old Trafford and Anfield.

“He’s been working with us for a long period now and he’s been working really well.

“With Brendan it’s still a little bit of a case of him adapting to the way we play. He’s progressing and doing a phenomenal job but we need to be a bit more patient on that one.”

Everton have an in-form frontman in Romelu Lukaku, his strike against Hull being his seventh goal of 2014-15 and his third in four matches.

Both Lukaku and Ross Barkley have been showing promising signs of late after slow starts to the season following World Cup action with Belgium and England respectively, the latter due to a knee injury.

Although impressing in patches, Barkley is not hitting the back of the net, with only one goal to his name in his last 23 appearances for club and country and none this term.

But, once again questioning what should be made of statistics, Martinez has emphasised that he sees Barkley as a natural goalscorer.

Regarding the star who turned 21 on Friday and who has been reported to be a City transfer target, Martinez said: “He is a goalscorer – he has the instinct for it and the talent in the final third to be really dangerous.

“I don’t look at the stats in that way – I look at the fact he is now fully fit and has been consistently strong for a while.

“He has played a big role recently, and slowly he is finding his best level.”

For more stories like this, delivered straight to your PC, please subscribe to the RSS feed or the daily insider newsletter. Click here to read football fan reviews of Everton photos (autographed).

 Posted by at 10:27 pm

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>