Martinez revels in Barkley return


Published: Wednesday 22nd October 2014 by The News Editor

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Everton boss Roberto Martinez has no doubt playing club European football will be another important step forward in Ross Barkley’s development.

The 20-year-old England midfielder, who registered his first appearance of the season on Saturday having recovered from a knee injury, is set to make his continental debut for the Toffees on Thursday when they take on Lille at the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Europa League Group H.

Barkley has already experienced plenty of things in his short career, and on the prospect of giving him a run-out in Thursday’s game, Martinez said: “I think the bigger the challenge for Ross, the bigger the response.

“It was such a joy to see his big smile getting on the plane. He has missed two important Europa League games and I know he has found it difficult.

“To see him back on Saturday (starting a 3-0 Barclays Premier League home win against Aston Villa) was a real positive for us.

“I think one of the benefits of getting into the Europa League was for the young players to get that European experience.

“It is important for them to face different teams that pose new tactical problems. Straight away it develops your understanding and awareness.

“It is a phenomenal competition for young players. It is exactly what they need.

“In the Premier League, you have a unique level of pace and power but in other leagues you get a bit more of a tactical game where strategy is important. Getting all those experiences is good for any young player.”

This match is the first of a double-header between Everton and Lille, with the reverse fixture following on November 6.

Everton top the group with four points while Lille are third with two after two rounds of games, and Martinez has teed it up as a “little final” for a pool which features Russians FK Krasnodar and Germans Wolfsburg as well.

It is also set to pit Toffees goalkeeper Tim Howard against Divock Origi once again after their encounter at the summer’s World Cup.

Both players made a good impression at the tournament in Brazil and they went head-to-head when Howard’s United States took on forward Origi’s Belgium in the last 16.

On that occasion Howard did a decent job of thwarting the teenager, who has since moved from Lille to Everton’s Merseyside rivals Liverpool before rejoining the French outfit on a season’s loan.

But the 35-year-old stopper is taking nothing for granted with regard to potentially doing so again on Thursday.

“He’s a good young player – very talented on the ball,” Howard said.

“I remember being in Brazil and having a feeling he would be playing so we studied him and what he might do and his strengths. It will be interesting to see him again.

“I think I know what he likes to do but it doesn’t mean I’m always capable of stopping it.

“I had a little bit of success against him and hopefully I can do it again but we’ll see.

“It doesn’t particularly give me more confidence. It was another day, another time. It’s kind of dangerous to keep you mind on games which have already passed.

“They help a bit but not much. Thursday will be its own animal.”

Origi, meanwhile, is certainly keen to get the better of Howard this time.

The 19-year-old, who has already netted four times for Lille this season, said on “I had lots of chances against Tim Howard in that game – seven or eight attempts – but failed to score.

“He had a great game, and we know how good he is. But I hope I’ll be able to beat him this time – it would be symbolic.”

Everton will be without rested pair Steven Naismith and Leon Osman for Thursday’s fixture.

Bryan Oviedo and Arouna Kone, only recently back involved after long-term injuries, are not yet fully match fit so have also sat out the trip to France, along with ex-Lille man Kevin Mirallas (hamstring) and John Stones (ankle).

Veteran Frenchman Sylvain Distin, left out of the matchday squad for the last four games, has been included in the travelling party.

Everton are set to have at least 5,500 of their supporters attending the game.

Published: Wednesday 22nd October 2014 by The News Editor

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