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Koeman says Everton are not interested in goalie Hart

Manager’s pre-match comments ahead of Stoke game

West Bromwich Albion v Everton - Premier League Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images

It turns out that the rumours of Everton being interested in England international goalkeeper Joe Hart were a media creation after all. Or else Ronald Koeman is the greatest poker player or troll of them all.

In his pre-match quotes ahead of the Stoke City game on Saturday, the Toffees manager was quite vehement in his denial that Everton were not in for Hart.

“There is no interest.”

When later pressed if there had been any contact for the player, he repeated -


Koeman was also asked about other players the Blues have been linked with lately, namely forward Lucas Perez and defender Cuco Martina -

“I don't talk about which position or which players or you start the season talking about transfers.

“We play Stoke at home this Saturday and it's more important than all the rumours and transfers.

“I know it's a good job for you (journalists). You can spend 24 hours talking about transfers but I need to prepare the team for this Saturday. In my opinion that's more important.”

Current players James McCarthy and Bryan Oviedo have been linked with moves away, but he refused to comment on them as well -

“It’s about decisions we make on the future of players that people will see next week.”

In other injury news -

"Seamus Coleman is doing well but not so well that he will be fit for weekend," said the Blues boss. "We have some small doubts over James McCarthy, Darron Gibson and Tom Cleverley but I would expect them normally to be fit for the weekend.

"Apart from that it's only really Coleman [missing]."

He also spoke at length about the team getting up to the fitness levels he would like. Koeman had famously criticized the players for only being at 70% ahead of the season opener against Tottenham.

“Everybody needs game time and physical strength to play at the highest level that they can, all of them are very good players.

“We are improving. When you have a midweek game it is difficult to get that intensity in training but we are still improving. It is normal that we would be physically better than we were before the Tottenham game.

“We are close to 100 per cent. Some players did not get much game time in pre-season and they have only had their first 90 minutes on Tuesday. Maybe those players need one or two weeks more. They will have international duty as well to play.

“To get everyone up to the level you need to play in the Premier League, it normally takes up until after the transfer window.”

The manager is happy with the progress the side has been making overall -

“I am very happy about the work rate of the team, how they like to improve, learning what I like to do and what they need to do. We do a lot of different things to what they used to do but that is good.

“In my opinion that brings a fresh air to everybody. That’s good because I believe in that way, in that philosophy and you need time to get everyone involved in that structure.

“It’s been a good start to the season because it was difficult in pre-season. We have already played two Premier League games and I think four points out of that is positive.

“But we know we have to be prepared for the next one. The victory at West Brom gave us a lot of confidence but we know that Stoke is always a tough game. We need to be prepared for that.”

He also spoke about Ross Barkley who was captain for the day on Tuesday in the EFL Cup Second Round game against Yeovil Town -

"His start to the season has been positive. The most important thing in this situation is that the player himself knows that it is a big season for him.

"He is not ‘that talent’ anymore – he needs to show it. That’s more responsibility for the player than maybe he has had these last two years.

"Ross knows about the pressure because he is a local boy. That gives everybody more pressure but he can handle that.

"He is working hard and tying to improve. I think there is still a lot of space for him to improve and become a very good player.

"From outside, maybe you get inspiration but I think that mentality needs to come from yourself.

"It starts every day by doing your job and being a professional. Of course, you need help and the confidence of the coach. But it always starts with the player by himself."