Ross Barkley will not be out for long, insists Everton boss Roberto Martinez
Roberto Martinez has allayed fears, reported on Saturday, that Ross Barkley could be out injured for up to five months, which would effectively be the rest of the season. The Everton manager was keen to stress that Barkley should be back inside two months, following speculation on Saturday evening that the medial knee-ligament injury the midfielder picked up in training could mean a four-month absence from the game.
Everton will know for sure on Wednesday night, when results of fresh scans on the England player come through, but Martinez was keen to stress that Barkley should be back inside two months.
Barkley had actually played in a behind-closed-doors friendly before he suffered the injury.
"No, no, it is not an injury that will rule him out for the year," Martinez stressed. "We are going to be expecting the next set of scans on Wednesday and Thursday to make sure the inflammation is not in the knee. Medial-ligament injuries can go from six weeks to a longer period but in this case it is not an injury that will rule him out of the season.
"We had played a game behind closed doors and he played a very good level for 45 minutes. It is very disappointing [to lose him] but he has come back from setbacks before."
The enforced absence of the 20-year-old Barkley has meant that Romelu Lukaku's season has been brought forward. The former Chelsea striker, who has converted last season's loan to a permanent move to Goodison Park, did not shine for Belgium at the World Cup, but Martinez insists he is not feeling burdened by a £28m fee.
"The pressure has not increased on him because of the size of the fee," he said. "It is the opposite. He is enjoying every ball. He feels really wanted at the club.
Lukaku played a key role in Everton's 2-2 draw at Leicester City on Saturday and Martinez added: "Because of the injury to Ross we needed Rom to take on more responsibility in that attacking role. He can be proud of his effort and the way he stayed on the pitch for 90 minutes."
Martinez said he did not expect to be a major player in the remaining two weeks of the window.
Leicester manager Nigel Pearson, however, feels his squad needs strengthening. He said Chris Wood, whose 85th-minute equaliser earned his team a point on their return to the Premier League, would not be leaving, despite holding talks last week with Wolves over a £1.25m move.
"We have played some very good football to get to this position, to play in the top flight," Pearson said. "We deserve this opportunity. It's important we don't think anything other than positive about our own prospects.
"We will probably have to add to the squad because of the numbers situation but, overall, I'm pretty satisfied with who we have. I had seen £180m floated around and that is nonsense."
Aiden McGeady gave Everton a brief lead, cancelled out by debutant Leonardo Ulloa. Steven Naismith put the visitors in front again before Wood struck.