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Koeman: It’s only the start of the season, long way to go

Manager’s pre-match comments ahead of EFL Cup game

Everton v Middlesbrough - Premier League
Everton manager Ronald Koeman
Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images

Everton will be in action again tomorrow, this time in the EFL Cup Third Round, hosting Norwich City. Manager Ronald Koeman spoke to the press earlier today, looking ahead to the game.

Striker Romelu Lukaku will miss out tomorrow after suffering a toe injury. He was seen hobbling along on the field before being substituted on Saturday against Middlesbrough.

"Romelu is not available, only he from the weekend is not fit and not available for tomorrow. He will rest his toe for two days and then normally, after two days, he can do normal training and [hopefully] he is available for the weekend.

"Enner Valencia will start tomorrow. Darron Gibson had a groin operation and he will be out the normal time - the same as James McCarthy, around three weeks. It always takes around three or four weeks to recover from that surgery but he’s doing well.

“It’s always frustrating for footballers to get an injury and to need an operation. Then you lose time and training and the league is only just starting. That is always difficult but it’s not a long-term injury and hopefully Darron, and James, will be back in the team for training as soon as possible.”

On the team’s start to the season -

"From the start I found myself comfortable (at Everton). Everyone likes to help.

“We know by ourselves it is only the start of the season and a long way to go. We need to improve, we can improve. We would like to fight for Europe.

“No excuses. We have qualities with the signings, so easy to mention we need more time but you don’t get time in football. I know that, that’s my responsibility, we’ve changed and brought new players in, everybody has settled down but it’s not always like that.

“We need to work hard and we’re doing well. There’s no reason to not be happy, football is happy and joyful, the fans like it - and what the fans like is the team winning.”

On the future of Lukaku, whose manager Mino Raiola said earlier today that he would be staying at Everton -

“I could see he was confident for this season. Everybody is happy to be a part of Everton, and that’s not so difficult at the moment.

“The club always tries to keep its best players. It’s difficult but they’re trying to keep him at the football club.

"The final decision on selling players is always by the board."

When asked about what approach Everton will be taking to the tournament -

"We take it [the EFL Cup] seriously. We will make some changes but all the players who will start tomorrow are players training hard to get a chance to get an opportunity to play and we will start with a strong team."

“Normally we can’t win the title. Leicester was an exception. Then you have the EFL Cup and FA Cup. Important for the rest of the teams. More other clubs that did not want this title, we will take it seriously. All the players who start tomorrow are Everton players, training hard to get a chance and we will have a strong team.”

When pressed if he thought the Toffees could win the title -

“I don’t think so. You never know, but what is normal in life? What is normal in football?

“If I said we could win the league, they would say that man is crazy. The big teams have much more qualities, if they don’t disappoint like last year, it will be impossible.”