Youngsters earn Martinez praise


Published: Friday 12th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Roberto Martinez felt Everton’s youngsters seized their chance to impress despite a 1-0 defeat by Krasnodar in the Europa League.

With the Toffees already guaranteed to top Group H ahead of the final game and their Russian opponents eliminated, Martinez took the opportunity to showcase the latest “diamonds” to come off a production line that launched the careers of Wayne Rooney and Ross Barkley.

He gave debuts to 17-year-olds Ryan Ledson and Kieran Dowell, while Conor McAleny and Tyias Browning both made their first senior starts and Chris Long and Gethin Jones were late substitutes.

Ledson, a combative midfielder and the England under-18 captain, caught the eye with a confident display, while 21-year-old left-back Luke Garbutt was a threat in attack.

But the result ultimately was a disappointing one, with Ricardo Laborde scoring the only goal of the game on the half-hour mark.

Martinez said: “If we don’t give them opportunities, you can try to work as much as you want in under-21 competitions or at Finch Farm, but they need days like today.

“In the first half they didn’t look themselves. They were a little bit fearful, a little bit cagey. I know them well, I’ve seen them work in the under-21s.

“The second half was completely different. They started to express themselves, to make better decisions and we saw very young talent getting a unique experience.

“After the game we’ve got different footballers just because of that. We’ve got a lot of information that we can use to our advantage now to try to help them realise their potential.

“But to see players at 17 showing the arrogance that Ryan Ledson showed in a Goodison game is very pleasing. Kieran Dowell as well, a very stylish footballer at a very young age.

“I thought Luke Garbutt looked outstanding throughout the game and overall I was very pleased. It’s a shame that we couldn’t get a positive result but today was for other reasons.”

The game also gave Martinez the chance to field players who have been sidelined through injury, notably Arouna Kone, who made his first appearance for more than a year following a knee injury.

The Ivorian was Everton’s biggest threat in front of goal, and Martinez believes he is now ready to help the side in the Premier League.

“I was very impressed,” said the Toffees boss. “He looked sharp, he looked lively. Not just the fact he managed to play 90 minutes, I thought he looked very powerful.

“He got in great positions, his hold-up play was very strong. Him and Bryan Oviedo are two major players because it’s a year that we missed them and it was great to see them out there.”

The major negative for Martinez was a hamstring injury to Christian Atsu that ended his evening after only 11 minutes, while Krasnodar’s goal also made for uncomfortable viewing.

Keeper Joel Robles, making a rare start in place of Tim Howard, came out to meet Laborde but was embarrassed when the Krasnodar player dinked the ball inside the post.

Martinez said: “Obviously we are disappointed with the goal as a whole. It’s not just the goalkeeper.

“He is disappointed. Obviously he tried to read the pass before protecting the goal. It’s a new team and the ball into the box was disappointing from our point of view. We were very soft in that respect.”

Published: Friday 12th December 2014 by The News Editor

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