Walcott Fit As Boss Backs Winger To Get Even Better

Sam Allardyce says Theo Walcott is capable of “scoring and providing even more goals” after confirming the Everton attacker is fit to face Stoke City on Saturday.

Walcott was forced off with cramp late in last week’s Goodison Park victory over Brighton & Hove Albion – a result which maintained the Toffees' prolific form on their own turf.

Cenk Tosun was also key to that success, blasting in his second goal in two matches and first at Goodison as Allardyce oversaw a third home success on the spin.

The manager is now determined to instigate a turnaround in the Blues’ away form – starting at Stoke this weekend – with Everton having amassed 23 points from the past 30 on offer in L4.

“Theo has had a big impact for us, as well as Cenk who is now scoring the goals,” said Allardyce, who also confirmed Idrissa Gana Gueye will be available to face Paul Lambert's team after the midfielder missed the win over Brighton due to illness.

“If we can increase our final-third quality even more, they will provide and score even more goals.

“There is only one thing we really have to put right, that is away results. Our past three home games were exactly the same.

“The level of performance of the players was the key element as to why we won those matches. That level has let us down away from home. If we perform at our top level we have every chance and are more than capable of getting a result [at Stoke].

“We put ourselves in a position in our past two away games to get positive results and we would not find ourselves in such a difficult position away from home if we had achieved those.

“But those are the small margins and defining lines. When that chance comes your way to put yourself in a position to win the game and you do not take it 
– or if you are in a position to win the game but allow the opposition to score from your mistakes [you get punished] and that is the key element we have to cut out.”

Allardyce confessed the “biggest blow” to come out of last weekend’s victory was the knee injury suffered by the excellent Gyfli Sigurdsson.

The Icelander is definitely ruled out of the trip to Stoke – but Allardyce will once again be able to call on defensive pair Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines.

Coleman completed successive matches for the first time since suffering the leg break which sidelined him for 10 months in the triumph over Brighton.

The Irishman’s fellow full-back Baines, meanwhile, featured for the first time under Allardyce after more than three months out with a calf problem.

“Most importantly, they give us a better balance in the side,” said Allardyce. “They provide more and more service to the midfield and the front lads.

“And that is with all due respect to Cuco Martina and Jonjoe Kenny, who have both done a fantastic job in difficult times.

“These guys are massively experienced Everton players and top internationals in their own right.

“They have had many years at the Club and have a lot of passion and desire to do well for Everton, which hopefully rubs off on the other players.

“As hard as they have trained, their match fitness is not at the same level as the other players.

“They have to use their experience and continue to play to get back up to that level. And if they do that, I am sure they will get even better from here on in.”

Allardyce also confirmed centre-back Ramiro Funes Mori is continuing to train with the Toffees’ first-team squad as the Argentine closes in on his own return from a long-standing injury layoff.

And the boss is expecting a difficult encounter this weekend with a Stoke side battling to maintain its Premier League status under manager Lambert.

“Stopping the goals going in [is key to surviving],” added Allardyce. “Part of our away form is down to not keeping enough clean sheets, which seemed to be remedied when I first got here but then slipped away again.

“It does not need an experienced manager to know what needs to be done. Paul knows exactly the same.

“It gives you the basis for victories and points on the board if you build a solid, strong defence.

“What happens below us [in the table] is not our responsibility. Apart from making sure Stoke do not beat us on Saturday because they would gain three points on us.

“If you are going to achieve anything in the Premier League you do not lose to the teams below you.

“Our short and long-term goals are to bring more stability. Through stability we achieve more results and that brings more calmness to the Club.

“Then we have to try to live with the expectation and big history Everton has. For me that is to get to a cup final and win it, or qualify for Europe sooner rather than later. If we managed to do it this year, it would be a very big achievement.”