Roberto Martinez insists Everton's 'strong character' will push them on as the season nears it's conclusion

Roberto Martinez’s pre-match comments ahead of Everton’s Premier League game with West Ham United.

Roberto Martinez insists Everton's 'strong character' will push them on as the season nears it's conclusion
Photo: Liverpool Echo

After a week where Bill Kenwright found the elusive billionaire to invest in Everton and another three points picked up away from home, Roberto Martinez and his side are in good spirits. 

West Ham United are in good form after picking up wins over Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup and league wins over Sunderland and Tottenham Hotspur, Slaven Bilic’s side will present a tough test for the Blues.

Martinez is targeting a run at the European places in the Premier League table and knows a win over the Hammers would put the Toffees within striking distance. He acknowledged that the run in for his side is anything but easy, but as always his side are ready for the challenge. 

Martinez on West Ham United

As Roberto Martinez described it, West Ham’s season up to this point has been “remarkable.” The Hammers are a single point outside the Champions League positions and have been picking up results in all competitions.

The Blues boss credited the Hammers home form to their success. This is the final year they will play at Upton Park before moving to the Olympic Stadium. Their away form is also “significant” to Martinez as they’ve been able to pick up wins against bigger sides such as Manchester City and Arsenal.

Martinez also said this West Ham team is a really “well balanced side” as they “share goals, share assists and play with an intensity.” He added that the Hammers also defend really well and “defend as a unit.

Martinez on banishing home game blues

Everton have been better away from home this season, there has not been many home comforts for the Blues this season. Martinez is aiming to change that.

To finish the season in a successful manner, the Blues need to pick up points more regularly at home than they have already. It’s a tough run of games coming up at Goodison Park but Martinez says that everything is “open.”

To achieve success in the league, The Toffees need wins over sides competing at both ends of the table and to progress in the FA Cup, they need a win over a resurgent Chelsea team. 

Martinez is backing his side to turn their “outstanding” away form into their remaining performances at home.

West Brom were the most recent team to frustrate the Blues at Goodison Park this season. Photo: Liverpool Echo

Martinez on John Stones’ return

After Everton did their upmost to retain John Stones in the summer, the centre half has put in a number of sub par performances in his most recent appearances.

While maybe not his fault at times, the Toffees have looked frail in defence, especially against Aston Villa during the week - where Stones was placed into a three in defence system. The Blues have looked defensively solid with Ramiro Funes Mori at the back instead.

Stones needs to get back to his best for the Blues in order to regain his place in the team and to help Everton finish as strong as possible. 

Boss Roberto Martinez is backing him to achieve that, noting that Stones is still a “vital player” and that his absence will help him return “refreshed and ready.” 

John Stones has not been himself this season. Photo: Liverpool Echo

Injuries and fitness

Leighton Baines will be fit for Saturday’s game but will need to see a specialist concerning his consistent ankle problems. Baines saw a specialist towards the end of last season and was thought to have rectified those problems. 

Brendan Galloway could earn a recall if Baines stuffers a setback before the game.

Bryan Oviedo is a doubt for the game after picking up a knock against Aston Villa. Oviedo has stepped in for Leighton Baines and performed well.

Muhamed Besic is set for a return to the Blues squad. He had been out with a hamstring injury but looks ready to rejoin the squad. Darron Gibson is also in contention for the game.

Tom Cleverley missed the midweek win over former club Aston Villa with illness and is currently carrying a chest infection.