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Everton vs Leicester City: Pre-Match Quotes

Leicester’s title bid backed by Martinez

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Roberto Martinez sat down with the assembled media for his pre-match press conference and he said John Stones is fit for Saturday, James McCarthy will be assessed and captain, Phil Jagielka is ‘progressing well’.

First of all the Spaniard was full of praise for the Premier League’s surprise leaders.

"I think Leicester deserve to be top of the league," said the Everton gaffer. "They've been really, really dynamic, one of the best counter-attacks in the league, they've got goals but then they've got a real spirit and togetherness and I think Claudio Ranieri deserves all the credit for developing that belief in that team. We will have to be at our best.

"We are looking forward to the opportunity to see them. Why shouldn't they be considered for the title? They have been so competitive in every game. In the first two or three fixtures they wanted to see if they could compete but now they have developed momentum.

Martinez continued by saying, "The new TV deal will allow any team to be competitive. The margins of winning or drawing are becoming smaller and smaller.

"The way they are playing, they are capable of achieving anything. This is the most open league we have had in many years. It is the worst time to face them but we are ready for those kind of challenges.'

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or Wi-Fi from TalkTalk, then you’ll know Jamie Vardy’s meteoric rise included breaking the Premier League record for games scored consecutively – with 11 games. Romelu Lukaku would probably have the sought of press Vardy has been getting if the Englishman hadn’t had such a remarkable start to the season. Lukaku is second top scorer in the league behind Vardy and scored in six consecutive Premier League games, with some already hypothesising Vardy’s record could be short lived.

On this notion the Belgian’s manager said;

"I don't think a striker goes in to try and break a record. Romelu has been consistent for 12 months now. He is a real reference point for our team."

"But if you look at Jamie Vardy, and all the steps he made, they have been really good steps where he has mastered every single role he’s had. It is very difficult to look at a non-league player and see that winning mentality and ability to adapt because for a scout that is impossible to see."

It wouldn’t be a Roberto Martinez appearance in front of the media without him being asked about the future of at least one of his players and Thursday was no different – to which Martinez said;

"I'm sure transfers will become a fresh topic but our position is quite clear, quite strong, we are not going to lose any of our top performers.

"In January it is not the right time to bring in players who can help you in a major way, only different tweaks or different gaps you can cover." Added the boss.

"January is about players who get frustrated if they haven’t played as many games as they have wanted. Sometimes you have to find them fresh challenges." [A reference to Steven Naismith or Kevin Mirallas perhaps? Hopefully not.]

Sticking with the squad but focused on Saturday, Roberto gave us the all-important team news.

"James McCarthy has started running. We will assess him today and tomorrow then make a final decision. He's not far away."

"John Stones has been able to do his normal work. There has been no reaction to the ankle and knee knocks - he's in perfect condition."

"Jagielka is progressing well. He hasn't been working with the ball yet, but he may be back before the end of the year."

Does anyone remember a certain South African playmaker? Martinez finished by revealing the former Ajax man is back in training!

"Steven Pienaar has been working for the group for three days. He's looking sharp, now he needs to pick up the tempo."