Nov 202014

Everton FC manager Roberto Martinez has hit back at suggestions that his players aren’t as committed to their national side as their club by declaring: “these players would give their lives for their countries.”

Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane this week took a swipe at the Blues boss by accusing him of putting James McCarthy and Darron Gibson under pressure to pull of international games.

Martinez declared that it was not for him to comment on Keane’s remarks but insisted he was not upset by them and that suggestions Everton’s Irish internationals weren’t fully committed to their country is “nonsense.”

He said: “All the fans need to know these players would give their lives for their countries.

“We’ve got a good relationship with Martin O’Neill. We’re always proud when our players represent their countries.”

James McCarthy leaves the pitch during a training session at Gannon Park, Malahide

The Catalan is continuing to monitor Leighton Baines’ fitness for Saturday’s visit of West Ham United after the left-back picked up a hamstring injury during England training six days ago.

He said: “We’re checking Leighton on a daily basis.

It’s touch and go for the weekend but he heals quickly.

“Darron Gibson hasn’t been able to train yet. He suffered a bit in the game against Scotland while Seamus Coleman played with five stitches.

I don’t think Gareth Barry will make it but you can never rule him out.”

Along with Southampton, the Hammers have been the surprise package in the Premier League so far this season and Martinez is impressed with how the Londoners have started the campaign.

He said: “I don’t look into our past record against West Ham. They’re an in-form team.

“They’ve got new players in the Premier League who have adjusted well. I’m impressed how Sam Allardyce has found a winning formula.”

Martinez added: “Everyone talks about the five clubs with big budgets but West Ham and Southampton have been consistent. They’ve not just got lucky.

“West Ham have been the most consistent team in the Premier League in the first third and it’s not been by accident.

“I think the top six positions is quite open. Nine or 10 clubs could be fighting for those spots.”

Martinez also reserved praise for midfielder Leon Osman who could make his 400 appearance for Everton against West Ham.

He said: “Not many Everton players to reach 400 games are from the modern era. Leon Osman is an incredible example to our youngsters.

“It could be difficult for someone else to reach 400.

You often don’t get that loyalty now.

“There are so many forces now taking you away from spending 10 years at a football club.”

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