West Bromwich Albion v Everton
Roberto Martinez has revealed that Aiden McGeady could make his Everton debut in Monday evening’s match against West Bromwich Albion.
The Republic of Ireland international joined from Spartak Moscow on Saturday and has spent the last week training alongside his new teammates in Tenerife.
McGeady is not yet in peak physical condition but Martinez has been impressed enough with 27-year-old’s fitness levels to include him in his squad for the trip to the Hawthorns.
Martinez also confirmed that Sylvain Distin is set to return to the fold after missing the last three games with a hamstring strain.
However, Ross Barkley will again sit the game out as he continues to recover from a fractured toe.
Martinez said that it is still ‘too early’ to ascertain how long the midfielder will spend on the sidelines.
Antolin Alcaraz is another who remains absent, with the Blues boss explaining that the Paraguay defender is still a week away from a returning to fitness.
Pepe Mel will be in the dugout for the first time since taking up his position as the new first-team coach at West Bromwich Albion when Everton visit the Hawthorns on Monday evening.
The 50-year-old Spaniard was appointed on 9 January and watched from the stands as the Baggies were beaten 1-0 at Southampton last weekend.
West Brom’s defeat at St Mary’s brought to an end a four-game unbeaten run in the Premier League, which was achieve following the sacking of former boss Steve Clarke before Christmas.
Monday’s contest will be the second time Roberto Martinez has faced a side mentored by Mel since he became Everton boss in the summer.
The two were in opposing technical areas when Real Betis, who Mel managed before he was relieved of his duties with the Andalusian outfit at the start of December, visited Goodison Park for the Blues’ final game of pre-season.
Everton won the friendly 2-1 thanks to goals from Kevin Mirallas and Nikica Jelavic, who has now departed Merseyside for Hull City.
The Croatian is likely to be joined at the KC Stadium by West Brom striker Shane Long who is close to completing a £7million switch.
With Long seemingly on his way out of the Hawthorns, Mel could partner either Saido Beharino or Matej Vydra with veteran Frenchman Nicolas Anelka in attack.
Former Blues striker Victor Anichebe has only managed one goal in 11 appearances since moving to the Black Country on transfer deadline day and has not played since the start of December.
Everton lost 2-0 on their last visit to the Hawthorns in September 2012 – but that was the only defeat suffered against West Brom in the previous six meetings between the clubs.
Everton were unable to break down West Brom in Roberto Martinez’s first competitive home game in charge of the Toffees back in August.
The Blues dominated from start to finish, carving out a succession of chances and were inches away from scoring on several occasions, but the contest ultimately finished scoreless.
England keeper Ben Foster was the star of the show, twice frustrating Steven Pienaar and Kevin Mirallas. He also saved well from Seamus Coleman, Ross Barkley and Marouane Fellaini who made his final home league appearance for Everton before joining Manchester United..
The Baggies' best chance of the game fell to James Morrison, who was denied by Tim Howard.
On the day, the Club also paid tribute to Everton legend Dave Hickson who passed away in July. 86-year-old Billy Ingham, star of the Premier League television advert, laid a wreath on the centre spot prior to kick-off.