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Stoke City (H) Fri 26 Dec 2014, 15:00, Barclays Premier League

Mccarthy Fit For United

by Adam Clark @efc_adamclark

Roberto Martinez says midfielder James McCarthy is fully fit to tackle Manchester United on Sunday.

McCarthy was only named on the bench for Wednesday's visit of Crystal Palace due to a muscular problem but managed a 30-minute run-out as a substitute.

And Martinez insists the Republic of Ireland international will be back in contention to start against the reigning Barclays Premier League champions as the Blues look to mount pressure on top-four rivals Arsenal.

"He is massively important to us and he should be fine," said the Toffees chief on Friday. "I was very pleased because we took a bit of a risk with him on Wednesday.

"But he's fully fit, he came through okay and he's preparing well for Sunday. I don't expect that to be a problem."

Meanwhile, skipper Phil Jagielka is again expected to miss out, with Martinez confirming a behind-closed-doors friendly has now been arranged for next week.

The Spaniard is keen for the defender to play a full 90 minutes before introducing him back to top-flight action - but did admit he could figure among the substitutes.

Asked if Jagielka might be named on the bench, Martinez replied: "He's got a chance. I wouldn't say he's not ready to do that. But to play 90 minutes, I would say no."

Midfielder Steven Pienaar will also be absent for the visit of the Red Devils.

The 32-year-old South African has sat out Everton's last seven games and is not yet ready for a return.

"Steven is doing really well but he's not ready for Sunday," said Martinez. "I don't think he'll be too far away.

"I hope Stevie can play at Goodison again this season, so the Manchester City game would be a realistic target for him."

Juan Mata is expected to return to the Manchester United starting line-up having been cup-tied for their last match - a 3-1 Champions League defeat at Bayern Munich.

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