Roberto Martinez, the Everton manager, has hit back at what he feels has been some “cheap talk” about his players’ efforts of late.
After pulling off a 4-1 Europa League last-32 first-leg victory over Young Boys in Berne last Thursday, Martinez’s side scraped a 2-2 draw against the Premier Leagues bottom side Leicester on Sunday.
Among those criticised over their performances in the Leicester game – which left 12th-placed Everton with a recent run of only two wins in 14 league matches – were 21-year-olds Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley. But speaking ahead of tonight’s second leg against Young Boys at Goodison Park, Martinez said: “I think there has been a lot of cheap talk from the outside, a lot of talk about Romelu Lukaku, about Ross Barkley and about our form. We just accept that – all we need to do is focus on winning games and enjoying our football.”
Defender John Stones is suspended after being sent off in the first leg, while the on-loan winger Aaron Lennon is cup-tied. Everton are also set to be without Bryan Oviedo (hamstring), Christian Atsu (illness) and Aiden McGeady (knee), but Leon Osman (foot) and Steven Pienaar (knee) will have late fitness tests.
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