Everton will host newly-promoted Middlebrough on Saturday in the fifth matchday of this season’s Premier League. Manager Ronald Koeman spoke to the press at Finch Farm earlier today.
| ICYMI, watch back this afternoon's pre-@boro press conference in full here - https://t.co/57oOiDuSjG #EFC— Everton (@Everton) September 15, 2016
He spoke about Ross Barkley’s struggles, with his comments summarized in a separate article here.
Koeman mentioned that loan signing Enner Valencia could make his first Everton appearance on Saturday -
"It's possible. He was not involved in Monday’s squad because he arrived late after playing 90 minutes twice for Ecuador.
"Normally he will be part of the squad for Saturday; we have no [new] injuries and it is the same number of players available for the weekend."
On the injury front, he said that midfielders Darron Gibson and James McCarthy remain out, but everyone else is fit and ready for selection. Tom Cleverley was left out as a precautionary measure from the Sunderland game day squad on Monday.
Here’s Koeman speaking about Middlsbrough and their manager Aitor Karanka -
| More from today's press conference as @ronaldkoeman fields a question about @boro counterpart @karanka... #EFC pic.twitter.com/DNQFwgItBi— Everton (@Everton) September 15, 2016
And here are his comments about star striker Romelu Lukaku finding his scoring touch again -
| Here's what @ronaldkoeman said when asked about @romelulukaku9 being back among the goals... #EFC pic.twitter.com/9AYonp6fwG— Everton (@Everton) September 15, 2016
"It's always a boost when your strikers score goals. We need to support Lukaku and give him the chances."
On his thoughts about Everton’s start to the season -
"The start is good but I have the experience of knowing it is difficult to keep the momentum because every game is a fight. It’s not about the name of the opponent - you can win or lose against everybody. The Premier League is unpredictable.
"You need to prepare yourself to be at your best level and we’d like to continue our good start but it’s not so easy. We have big ambition, we want to fight for Europe. We have to continue on Saturday.”
He also took some time to recognize the achievements of midfielder Gareth Barry, who will be making his 600th Premier League appearance on Saturday, just 33 games behind all time leader Ryan Giggs and only nine games off the second-placed Frank Lampard.
“He will be selected. It’s an amazing achievement to reach. He’ll be the third player to reach 600 games and to have played 19 seasons in a row is fantastic.
“He’s still an important player for us because he is a clever player and those type of players will always have respect and be important. You have to minimise the training intensity a little bit across the whole week to keep the player fit to play.
“I’m very happy that he’s still part of our Everton team.”
Barry signed a three-year deal with the Toffees at the beginning of the 2014-15 season, and his current deal ends with this season. When asked if he would be re-signed, Koeman said -
“We will speak about it - not today, not next week, but if he is still that player we need then we will talk about next season.”