Everton manager Roberto Martinez will wait until 'final third of the season' to assess Champions League target

The Toffees are among those in contention to finish in the top four

Everton manager Roberto Martinez believes it is too early to determine if his guarantee of bringing Champions League football to Goodison Park can come to fruition this season.

It was back in June at Martinez's unveiling when Toffees chairman Bill Kenwright revealed how the interviewee had won him over with a bold proclamation to elevate the club into Europe's premier cup competition.

That was a feat Martinez's predecessor David Moyes managed just once, in 2005, and a controversial two-legged defeat to Villarreal during the the qualifying stages remains the only Champions League experience Everton fans have sampled.

But, with the landmark of 20 Barclays Premier League fixtures already completed, the Toffees lie just one point and one place outside of the much-coveted top four and supporters are beginning to dream of Martinez's promise becoming a reality in just his first season.

There is no specific target in mind for the manager himself, though, at least not at this stage.

"You always wait until the final third of the season to set the final aim," he said.

"We started well and I feel we have a really good squad of players with terrific talent and a great mentality and we had a good start. But, to talk about aims in the league, you need to wait until you get in to the final nine, 10 games then, depending on the points tally, you can dream of one aim or another.

"We're in a good place but all we need to do now over the next nine (home) games is to get as many points as we can and that will give us the opportunity to fight for one aim or another.

"So far, the football that we've played and the way we've shown the strength in our squad allows you to feel confident every time you go on the pitch, to feel that you can be yourself whoever you got up against. Those two aspects are the most important ones to show in a 10-month competition. I'm really pleased with that."

That strength in the squad has been increasingly evident ever since central-defensive partners Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin succumbed to hamstring injuries.

The onus then fell on experienced Paraguay international Antolin Alcaraz and teenage defender John Stones to fill the voids and while the former is no stranger to Martinez from their time together at Wigan, it is the latter, an ex-Barnsley trainee, who has delighted his boss with his swift progression.

"John impressed so much in pre-season that I saw he was always ready to help the team," Martinez said of the blossoming talent.

"He's a young man in age but I think he's ready in terms of the levels that are needed. John has been involved in many games now and, if you look at the games he's been involved in in the Premier League, he's had many diverse experiences playing in different positions and his role is growing.

"The way that he performed against Stoke and against QPR, that only helps his case and he's one of the players that is fighting to earn his starting spot; that's where he is. Believe me, he has an incredible future."

Stones and Alcaraz look set to be in tandem again at home to Norwich on Saturday with Jagielka and Distin's return pencilled in for the trip to West Brom on the following Monday.

Few teams boast a better home record than Everton this season but the Canaries will arrive on Merseyside buoyed by the fact they have not lost against them in the five fixtures since their top-flight status was restored.

"You need to highlight that they've got incredible character," Martinez, who may be without Ross Barkley due to a toe injury, added.

"This season they've had to go through real highs and real lows but they always manage to get ready for the next game and be competitive.

"They've got really good individuals that have been playing together for a long time and the additions bring something different.

"Chris Hughton has got a lot of experience and he gets his sides really well organised and difficult to break down.

"It's going to be a tough game on Saturday."

PA

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
people
News
A speech made by the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister urging women not to laugh in public in order to preserve morality has sparked a backlash on social media from women posting defiant selfies of themselves laughing at his remarks.
GALLERYWhy are Turkish women having a chuckle at the government's expense?
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star