Martinez: Barkley doesn’t dive


Published: Wednesday 26th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Everton boss Roberto Martinez insists Ross Barkley is no diver and claims the incident where the Toffees midfielder went to ground in Saturday’s game against West Ham “has been blown out of proportion”.

Barkley has faced accusations of throwing himself down on purpose after he hit the deck in the first half of the 2-1 Barclays Premier League home victory over the Hammers, winning his side a free-kick even though replays showed there had been no contact on him from his nearest opponent, Kevin Nolan.

Martinez is adamant Barkley is not the sort of player to try to “buy a decision” and says it is understandable the 20-year-old England international might end up on the turf while attempting to avoid some of the “rough treatment” he has to endure in matches.

Asked on Wednesday at his press conference to preview Thursday’s Europa League Group H match at Wolfsburg whether he had spoken to Barkley about diving, Martinez said: “Not at all – I don’t think it (Saturday’s incident) was a dive as such.

“When you are a player like Ross Barkley and you are getting so many knocks and kicks during the game, the only thing he did was anticipate a tackle that didn’t arrive – he tried to get out of the way.

“I don’t think he looks for those sort of decisions. He wasn’t trying to buy a decision.

“It is an incident from the game that you can understand – when you see his legs after the game, you understand the rough treatment he gets.

“It was just a reaction. The whole situation has been blown out of proportion.”

Barkley is part of a Toffees squad for Thursday that is missing a considerable number of players, including forward Steven Naismith due to the hamstring problem he sustained in the West Ham win.

Among those who sat out that contest were defender Leighton Baines (hamstring) and midfielders Gareth Barry (ankle) and Steven Pienaar (knee), each of whom are also absent from the trip to Germany, but Martinez says that trio and Naismith have a chance of featuring in Sunday’s league game at Tottenham.

Forward Arouna Kone is a notable inclusion in the squad as his rehabilitation from a long-term knee problem nears completion.

Everton go into the match, their penultimate fixture in Group H, unbeaten in the pool so far and in a very strong position in terms of their prospects of making the knock-out rounds.

They are top and need only a point from the clash with second-placed Wolfsburg to guarantee progress to the next stage, while a victory will confirm them as having advanced as group-winners.

They will also qualify tomorrow even if they lose should the evening’s other Group H fixture, between Krasnodar and Lille, end in a draw.

Martinez has stressed that his side will be going for victory on Thursday and that they will in no way be taking their opponents lightly.

The Spaniard feels the 4-1 win Everton recorded against Wolfsburg at Goodison Park earlier this term was not an accurate reflection of the match, and is mindful of the fact Dieter Hecking’s men – second in the Bundesliga – have won 10 of 13 games since then.

“To try to win is the only approach we have,” Martinez said.

“We had a really good game at Goodison against Wolfsburg, although the scoreline did not reflect the amount of chances both teams had.

“We massively respect Wolfsburg and know how well they have done.

“We feel they are a really exciting team, we know they are going to be in the Champions League next season and we know they are going to go from strength to strength.

“They have been in incredible form.”

Published: Wednesday 26th November 2014 by The News Editor

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