Inconsistent Everton need the calming influence of James McCarthy back in the side as soon as possible, says Roberto Martinez.
The Blues boss is hopeful the 24-year-old midfielder will feature at some point in the next two games as Everton look to kick-start their mixed season.
McCarthy has missed the last six games in league and cup after aggravating a hamstring problem in the Europa League game with Wolfsburg in late November.
Martinez admits the Blues have missed the £13m midfielder’s steadying hand but are keeping their fingers crossed McCarthy will play against Stoke City and Newcastle United.
“James McCarthy is someone who brings consistency to your performances,” Martinez said.
“That is the type of performer he is, he gives you that calm feeling and allows others to play around him. It has been a real disappointment this season from his point of view because he has been picking up small niggles and small injuries that is part of his growing process.
“His body is still adapting and he has played a huge amount of games. He also has international demands and the body needs to adapt to new demands.
“He will be a great boost.
“I am focusing on trying to get the whole squad back and fit. It is going to be an important period for us and James is part of that group.”
Martinez, who also says Kevin Mirallas has a “great” chance of playing in the next two games after suffering an ankle injury, added: “I think James is quite unique in what he does. You don’t get many footballers with the technical ability in both feet that he has. He can start play in a manner that he can do. But the way he has developed that tactical knowledge how to sense danger and how to suffocate some play and become so, so strong in defensive duties makes it a quite special mixture in a footballer.
“Normally you get a good defensive footballer or a technical footballer but James brings both.
“He has incredible experience now and has played over 60 games in the Premier League. He is some-one we all know has a phenomenal future at Everton and you miss him when he’s not on the pitch.”
Martinez, meanwhile, utilised the loan market to good effect last season bringing in Romelu Lukaku, Gareth Barry and Gerard Deulofeu on season long loans before adding Lacina Traore to the squad in January, whose stay at the club was blighted by injury.
The Blues have borrowed Christian Atsu from Chelsea this season and could still explore that market when the transfer window opens next month.
“This season was very important to start the campaign with a really strong squad in terms of numbers and talent because we knew the league was going to be demanding,” said Martinez.
“That has been the case and what is important in January is that we don’t lose any of the good performers and make sure we build on that. But our season won’t rely on bringing new faces into the squad because I think the quality and talent is in the squad already and it is a case of sharpening some aspects of our performances and making sure we get some players back from injury.
“I’m quite clear on that and January, like any window, we will always try to work in a way that if there is anything that can help us at the club with new additions then we will do that. But the way we set this season, I don’t think that was going to be the case. January is just a window of just getting through with some little tweaks because the core of the squad is ready.”
Martinez says Leon Osman and Tony Hibbert are likely to be sidelined for two more weeks but Bryan Oviedo should play some part against Stoke or Newcastle.
The Everton boss is hopeful Darron Gibson will be back in the squad in the New Year.
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