Everton v Norwich City
Roberto Martinez has revealed that Ross Barkley is a doubt for Saturday’s Premier League game against Norwich City.
The midfielder scored the opening goal in last week’s FA Cup tie against Queens Park Rangers but also picked up a toe injury in the 4-0 win over the Championship outfit.
Martinez, speaking on Thursday morning, said he was hopeful Barkley will have recovered in time for Saturday’s 3pm kick-off, though he admits it remains unclear at this moment in time.
The Blues boss will also assess defensive trio Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin ahead of the clash against the Canaries.
Martinez said: “We have got a few doubts but we still have two training sessions before the important game on Saturday.
“We are going to assess Sylvain Distin, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines and Ross Barkley who got a knock against Queens Park Rangers. Those four players are the ones that we have got a question mark over.
“Ross had a knock on the toe in his right foot. It’s a bit swollen but we are hoping that he is going to be fine for the weekend.
“Everyone else is fine.”
Baines missed the QPR game due to a back spasm, while Jagielka and Distin both continue to recover from hamstring injuries.
If the two centre-halves don’t recover in time for the visit of the Canaries, Martinez is hopeful they will definitely be fit for the following game against West Bromwich Albion a week on Monday.
"They [Distin and Jagielka] are not too far away. It’s just that period we got through in the Christmas fixture list. They are close to making Saturday but also on the verge of missing. We need to make sure there is not a risk because it is a soft tissue injury.
“It’s a matter of days but it’s too early to say if they are going to make it for Saturday but I feel they will be fine for the next game against West Brom.”
Everton enter Saturday’s game searching for their third home win in succession after responding to the disappointment of losing their unbeaten Goodison Park record on Boxing Day with victories over Southampton and Queens Park Rangers.
The Blues have been prolific on home soil this term - netting 25 goals – and three points against the Canaries would temporarily lift the Blues above Liverpool and into the top four, a position they would maintain should Brendan Rodgers’ side fail to beat Stoke City on Sunday.
Norwich languish just three points above the relegation zone and travel to Goodison Park without a win in their last five Premier League matches. They were also held to a 1-1 home draw against Fulham in the FA Cup third round last weekend.
Gary Hooper, who was signed from Celtic in the summer, is the Canaries’ leading marksman having struck seven times in all competitions this season.
Ross Barkley notched his first senior goal for Everton when the two teams played out an entertaining 2-2 draw on the opening day of the 2013/14 season.
All four strikes were scored in the second half as the Blues overturned Steven Whittaker’s opener to take a 2-1 lead through Barkley’s stunning left-foot effort and Seamus Coleman’s close-range finish.
But Chris Hughton’s team salvaged a point when £8.5million signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel headed a leveller 18 minutes before the end.
Everton also relinquished an advantage when the two teams squared-off at Goodison Park last season. Steven Naismith powered home Bryan Oviedo’s cross early on, but a 1-0 victory was agonisingly snatched away from the Toffees when Sebastian Bassong converted in stoppage time.