Roberto Martinez has dismissed rumours about Sylvain Distin’s absence from the Everton FC first team and says the defender simply needed time to “refresh and regenerate” after suffering a knock against Swansea City in the Capital One Cup.
The French defender missed games against Liverpool, Krasnodar and Manchester United and whilst Martinez admits that Distin was available for selection in the latter two games, the Blues boss says that he has benefited from the time out of the spotlight.
Martinez says that Distin will return to the squad for Saturday’s clash with Aston Villa and compete with Antolin Alcaraz for a place alongside Phil Jagielka in the Toffees’ starting line-up.
He said: “Sylvain is training well and is fully refreshed and is ready to fight for his place.
“Sylvain’s experience is quite unique and it’s a great sign to see him enjoying his football, enjoying his training and it’s a great opportunity to have him in the squad.
“You will always get rumours, but the reality was that he picked up a knock after the Swansea game and obviously at that period I considered it was right for him to have a bit of break and rejuvenate.
“But sometimes he is such a professional he works too hard. He is someone who is not just happy with what he does with the team, he has his individual programmes and he works too much.
“I felt that he needed a bit of a break but now he has come back refreshed and ready to fight for his place.
“It’s great to see him around the place with that energy and the desire to help the team.”
Martinez was forced to dismiss rumours that the 36-year-old was left out of the starting line-up for disciplinary reasons.
Martinez added: “He could have played the last game against Manchester United and maybe Krasnodar, but the little knock that he had stopped him from being available for Liverpool and from that point on it was just making sure he could recover.
“You need players fully fit and ready to perform and Sylvain is ready, he has been training really well the whole week.
“I think every player wants to play and the moment you lose that desire you’re not going to last. As a player you want to play every minute and that’s how it should be.”
On the knock which sidelined Distin the Blues boss explained: “It was a dead leg. His right thigh.”
Ross Barkley is also nearing a return to full fitness but Martinez says that it’s too early to tell if he’ll be ready for Saturday’s game.
“Sometimes you forget what a sensational footballer he is. It’s too early to tell if he’s going to be involved on Saturday but I don’t see him being to far away.”
“James McCarthy, Seamus Coleman and Steven Pienaar are also very close. If it’s not the weekend I expect them to be available for the Europa League game.”