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Everton v Liverpool: McCarthy set to return

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Martinez denies reports of injury setback

Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Everton manager Roberto Martinez has given us all a pre-derby boost by insisting that James McCarthy has not suffered a setback in his recovery from a hamstring injury and expects him to be in the squad for Saturday.

His comments directly contradict an article by the Guardian's Andy Hunter, published just hours earlier, which suggested the midfielder could be out for a further fortnight after suffering a setback in training.

McCarthy's fitness was the first question asked at Martinez's pre-derby press conference which he replied:

"He [McCarthy] was in hospital yesterday having a scan to make sure he is fully recovered. The scans have shown that he is perfectly healed and now it is about adapting him to the match intensity.

"I expect James to be in the squad for the weekend so it is terrific news in that respect."

Good news, so it seems.

Andu Hunter usually has very good sources so it is strange for him to get something like this so very wrong. However, McCarthy's fitness problems have been a divisive issue inside the Everton camp this season so misinformation and confusion is perhaps inevitable.

The departure of head of medicine Danny Donachie in December was rumoured to be related to a disagreement over McCarthy's rehabilitation, though this has been denied by Everton.

I guess we will find out for sure on Saturday but I for one and still not fully convinced the Ireland midfielder has got to the root of his hamstring problem.

Given how important he is to the team I would prefer the club to take a long-term view with his fitness, even if that means keeping him out of the team for a few more weeks.

We have already seen him break down twice after being rushed back, a third time would be just downright irresponsible.