Roberto Martinez: Everton can still finish in Euro places
Roberto Martinez denied that Everton need an FA Cup run to save their season. The Toffees have flattered to deceive for much of the campaign and saw a promising little run ended by last week's defeat against West Brom, their sixth at home in the Premier League.
They travel to Bournemouth in the fifth round of the FA Cup tomorrow, but Martinez insisted qualifying for Europe through the league remains the focus.
Everton sit 11th in the table, five points behind seventh-placed West Ham and six adrift of Manchester United in fifth. Asked if the cup could be the club's salvation, he said: "No, not at all. First of all we need to look at the league.
"We're going into the final third of the season. That means 36 points to fight for, and we are not far away from the European places. That's what we're going to fight for.
"The team is mentally ready. I think we showed so far this season what we can achieve. In the League Cup, we got into the semi-final.
"We were disappointed not to get through and I think it shows how far the expectations have grown and how far we've come.
"In the FA Cup we are in the fifth round, facing another Premier League side away from home, understanding the difficulties that brings but looking forward to that opportunity."
Martinez has felt the heat from some supporters over Everton's results. And fans were unhappy to see Aaron Lennon substituted against West Brom, but Martinez said of their reaction: "It's not concerning because we are all sharing the same feeling.
"We were the first ones to be frustrated and disappointed.
"I'm in an advantageous position to know what the team needs and how the players feel. But I understand the reaction from the crowd."
Defender John Stones will be fit for Saturday's clash after a hamstring injury but new signing Oumar Niasse is likely to have to wait for his debut.
Martinez refused to comment on reports linking Chelsea goalkeeper Asmir Begovic with an £8m switch to Goodison Park.