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


Roberto Martinez will leave it until the last possible moment before deciding whether to include new signing Christian Atsu in his matchday squad for Everton’s clash with Leicester City this Saturday.

The Blues boss says he will ‘assess’ the Ghanaian World Cup star to determine if the 22-year-old is ready to make his Premier League debut in the season-opener at the King Power Stadium.

But Martinez stressed it was important to allow Atsu, who completed his season-long switch from Chelsea on Wednesday evening, time to adjust to the demands of the English top-flight.

Muhamed Besic could also make his competitive Blues bow against the Foxes.

“We should see Christian playing very soon because he's been keeping himself very fit and he's been training well in the last few weeks,” said Martinez.

“We're going to assess him and see where he is but he's had a good break since the World Cup.

“Because he hasn’t played in the Premier League that always brings an adaptation period. How long is that going to be? It’s impossible to tell.

“Because he has been working at an English club already, many of the aspects you have to get used to as a foreign player won’t be the case with Christian.

“Physically he is in a good moment and it is about giving him time to adapt to this league.”

Martinez says it is also too early to tell whether Seamus Coleman, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas will be fit enough to face the Foxes.

A hamstring injury forced Coleman out of Everton’s first friendly of pre-season against Tranmere Rovers on 22 July and he has not played since.

Lukaku and Mirallas reported back to Finch Farm later than their Toffees teammates because of their World Cup involvement and neither has featured in any of the warm-up matches.
“Seamus Coleman has been working well but it is a bit too early to know if he will be available for Saturday but he is already training with the team,” added Martinez.

“The same has to be said for Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas. They arrived back a little bit later because of the World Cup demands.

“We have a few decisions to make before the weekend but we are in a healthy way and have a real excitement for the new season.”

Romelu Lukaku, Kevin Mirallas and Seamus Coleman

The aforementioned Belgian duo were two of six Everton players that competed at the World Cup.

Martinez explained why it was important to give those who starred in Brazil an extended rest and recuperation period in the lead-up to the new Premier League season.

He said: “It’s about giving them a priority, which was to make sure they had a good break so they were refreshed completely and came back desperate to be involved in football. They have done that.

“Then you have to pick it up from there and that will probably mean carrying on their conditioning while the competition has started.

“We don’t want to get a backlash halfway through the season because they never had a proper break.

“Romelu and Kevin have had that. Tim Howard, Ross Barkley, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines have also had that and are clearly refreshed.

“So, all in all, I am not just looking at the fitness levels of these players because that will be extended over the next six to seven weeks. But I am delighted that their minds are ready for a tough season.”

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