Hull vs Everton: Roberto Martinez laments tiredness but insists Toffees remain on course to fight for top four finish

Everton manager feels the Europe League campaign plus Premier League exertions has caught up with his squad after lacklustre draw with Tigers

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The Independent Football

Everton boss Roberto Martinez admitted tiredness had caught up with his side in Wednesday's 1-1 Barclays Premier League draw with Hull, but insisted he was not worrying at this point about their bid for a top-four finish.

The Toffees looked in control of the contest at Goodison Park when Romelu Lukaku put them 1-0 up in the 34th minute, but, after Tigers substitute Sone Aluko took advantage of ponderous defending to slot in a 59th-minute equaliser, Martinez's men struggled to get much going in response.

Everton, with a Europa League campaign to contend with this term, are currently 11th in the Premier League table - seven points behind fourth place.

And Martinez - while emphasising the toll injuries and a busier schedule have taken - stressed that was not too great a gap, particularly given how much of the season is left.

 

The Spaniard, whose side finished fifth last season, said: "I wouldn't say there is a problem with confidence - I think there was a little bit of a lack of energy.

"But you didn't see a player (against Hull) not fully committed or giving everything they had.

"Believe me, it has been a very tough period for us, with the travelling and different competitions and amount of games - that is not an excuse, it is a reality.

"Of course we wanted to have more points - there is no denying that.

"But we have only played 14 games in the Premier League, so the amount we have left is huge.

"Are we miles away from the top four positions? No. I don't see that as a worry right now."

Leighton-Baines.jpg
Leighton Baines leaves the field after suffering a bloodied nose

There were boos at the final whistle from some Everton fans, whose team have now won only three of their last 10 home league games - a reaction Martinez said was "more of an emotion than a moan".

He also suggested Hull had been "stopping the clock" as they dug in for a point that brought their four-match losing streak to an end and lifted them out of the relegation zone on goal difference.

Tigers boss Steve Bruce acknowledged the result had been much needed, before expressing his certainty he has a better squad now than in 2013-14.

Bruce, who made four changes to his first XI from the 3-0 loss at Manchester United on Saturday, said: "I'm still convinced we have a squad that will improve us from last year, because we have more depth, and that showed (against Everton)."

Hull finished 16th last season in their comeback top-flight campaign, as well as reaching the FA Cup final.

Bruce added: "The Premier League already has a familiar look - the bottom eight or nine teams you would expect to be there, and our aim is to be at the top of that group if we can.

"We are under no illusions how difficult it will be. But from what I have seen, we will be okay. I'm convinced."

PA

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