Everton v Hull: Roberto Martinez says Everton cannot afford to relax

The Toffees lost their unbeaten record in the game against Manchester City immediately before the international break

Everton manager Roberto Martinez insists his squad cannot afford to rest on their laurels as the Barclays Premier League season resumes.

Immediately prior to the international break the Toffees lost the top-flight's remaining unbeaten record with defeat at Manchester City.

With so many players away with their national teams Martinez has had little time to work on his preparations to bounce back from that ahead of the visit of Hull.

But he has stressed the one thing they cannot be is complacent against last season's Championship runners-up.

"We are pleased with the start but it is only a start," he said.

"We are in October and we will try to keep on growing, getting better and learning from experiences.

"We feel disappointed we dropped six important points in the opening three fixtures but now looking back what we need to do is carry on developing a way of playing which is going to be consistent and strong throughout he season.

"The squad is ready to do that and that is our next target; to concentrate on Saturday and make sure we carry on with the level of performance we have shown this season.

"In the league from winning to drawing there are more details and that is probably the difference that we have from earlier in the season.

"But we haven't done anything to sit back and relax.

"Now is when we really need to push ourselves and make sure we fulfil our potential, which I feel as a squad of players is huge."

Among European clubs only Bayern Munich had more players on international duty than Everton and, despite the disruption it causes, that is a positive in Martinez's eyes.

"I think it is a nice sign," he added.

"It shows the quality of the squad and if you add in the under-21s I think it shows we not only have experienced players but talent coming through and that is pleasing.

"It is not ideal to try to prepare games in the middle of that because you get an empty room at Finch Farm but it is a sign of the quality we have in the squad."

Having been promoted last season Hull may be seen as one of the sides Everton would be expected to sweep aside, but Martinez insists Steve Bruce's team should not be under-estimated.

"All the games are very important," he said.

"Hull have had a good start and no one speaks of them as a newly-promoted side any more.

"They speak about how strong they are: in addition to the combination of the winning mentality and the tactical flexibility they had last season in the Championship they have brought in outstanding additions to make a strong group.

"I don't see Hull as a team who will come here and try to defend and try to make it hard.

"I think they will be themselves - they have only lost two games and I thought they had a big say in those two performances against Man City and Chelsea away.

"To get the result (a 3-2 win last month) against Newcastle away from home shows this is a team who will come to Goodison and believe they can get three points."

Midfielder Steven Pienaar, who has not played since August 31 because of a hamstring injury, is still not ready to return while summer signing Antolin Alcaraz's long-awaited debut will not come until next month at the earliest.

"Steven has been working with the group really well but I think it is a bit too early to be available but I do expect him to be fully fit for next Saturday," Martinez said.

"We have been pleased with the way he has been developing.

"Antolin every day he looks really strong. Three weeks ago he had a little bit of a setback (from a hernia problem) and now he is back on full recovery and I do feel he will be ready in the next three weeks."

PA

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