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Stoke City (A) Wed 4 Mar 2015, 19:45, Barclays Premier League

by Matthew Gamble @efc_mattgamble

Roberto Martinez is already feeling the excitement ahead of his first Merseyside derby.

The manager has a near-empty training ground this week with the majority of the Everton squad away on international duty.

But that hasn't stopped him building the anticipation ahead of the Goodison Park clash a week on Saturday.

Martinez told evertontv: "It’s such an exciting fixture, you can tell it’s got a special feel about it and especially now that both teams are in very good positions after good starts to the season.  It’s going to be a good fixture – an important fixture."

The Blues boss is using the shortage of bodies at Finch Farm as a positive in terms of working at length with the players who have remained on Merseyside.

He explained: "It is a great opportunity for them to work on certain aspects they need to from an individual point of view. You can concentrate individually on their needs.

"Obviously, when the players are away on international duty, that’s where the frustration arrives because you can’t really control what they’re doing. But, the communication with national teams is pretty good in all the cases and we can monitor what they do and how well they get on with all of their work.

"And then, the hardest part of it is to try to get them ready for the weekend. But for everyone who has been left behind, it’s a good opportunity to work individually and try to regenerate the bodies after the first third of the competition."

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