Fulham v Everton
Roberto Martinez has confirmed that Darron Gibson and Arouna Kone could make their comebacks from injury in Tuesday’s Capital One cup tie - but Leon Osman is a big doubt for the trip to Craven Cottage.
The Blues boss revealed at his pre-match press conference that Romelu Lukaku is fully fit after recovering from the blow he received to the head when netting the match-winning goal in Saturday’s 3-2 victory over West Ham on Saturday.
Martinez also indicated he is likely to make changes to his team as he manages the workload of three matches within the space of nine days.
Martinez said: “Leon is a bit of a concern and I don’t expect him to be fully fit for the game tomorrow. He is going to have a scan again today and I expect him to be out of the squad for Tuesday.
“I consider Darron Gibson fully fit. He has been working extremely well and he has joined the group, so that’s a great positive for us.
“Romelu is fine. We were in yesterday and his reaction has been great. The medical department are very happy with him so it’s not a concern. We will keep on top of him and make sure there is no reaction but we are very pleased with him. He trained and is ready to carry on as normal.
“Arouna is a little bit better. He was probably 95 per cent [fit] at the weekend. We are not going to take any risk and he still has a little bit of bruising. It’s nothing serious, we are going to assess him and he still has a chance for tomorrow but even if he is 99 per cent fit, he is not going to be available.
“There are many players that haven’t been able to play too many minutes and I see them ready in training. I want them to have an opportunity on the pitch and show the fans what they can do. That’s why I’m extremely excited about the game tomorrow.”
Martinez explained that Steven Pienaar and Antolin Alcaraz will be allowed further time to recover from their respective injuries.
He continued: “We are not going to rush Steven Pienaar. We are going to give him more time. Antolin, we are not going to rush him for this game either.
“The squad is big enough to give the players who need to recover long enough. Everyone in the squad is going to be 100 per cent and we are not going to take any chances.”
Fulham enter Tuesday evening’s game occupying a place in the Premier League’s relegation zone after making a stuttering start to the season.
Martin Jol’s team secured a 1-0 opening day victory at Sunderland but are winless in the top flight since. Most recently, they slipped to a 2-0 defeat at West London rivals Chelsea at the weekend.
Fulham fielded a much changed line-up in their previous tie at Burton Albion and they were given a thorough examination by the League Two club. After the tie finished 2-2, the Cottagers needed a penalty shoot-out to book their place in the last 32 of the competition.
The Blues, on the other hand, return to the capital buoyed by the excellent 3-2 win at West Ham on Saturday afternoon – a result which maintains Roberto Martinez’s unbeaten start as manager at Goodison Park.
Similarly to Fulham, Everton were made to work hard by lower league opposition in the previous stage of the competition. Stevenage took a shock lead but Gerard Deulofeu’s debut goal and Marouane Fellaini’s close-range finish saw the Toffees through after an extra time 2-1 win.
Everton 1-0 Fulham, 27 April 2013.
Steven Pienaar notched the only goal of the game as Everton inflicted a 20th successive Goodison Park defeat on Fulham the last time the two clubs met in April.
The South African scored after 15 minutes, side-footing past Mark Schwarzer after neat build-up play involving Victor Anichebe and Leon Osman.
The game is also remembered for the 50th anniversary celebrations of Everton’s 1962/63 title success. Five members of that famous Toffees team – Derek Temple, Mick Meagan, Tony Kay, Alex Young and Billy Bingham - attended the match as special guests of the Club and were paraded on the pitch at half-time.
Everton recorded a 2-2 draw on their last visit to Craven Cottage in November of last season. Steve Sidwell netted a last-minute equaliser to deny the Blues three points after Marouane Fellaini’s brace.