Belfast Telegraph

So far so good for Martinez

Roberto Martinez feels Everton have done a good job so far this season of adapting to the demands placed upon them - and is sure they will continue to do so.

The Merseysiders have a more hectic schedule this term, with them participating in the Europa League for what is their first continental campaign since 2009-10.

Certainly on that front, they have fared well to date - they currently sit top of Group H having taken five points from their first three games in the pool, a 4-1 home victory over Wolfsburg followed by draws away at FK Krasnodar and Lille.

In the Barclays Premier League, after a fifth-placed finish in 2013-14, they are ninth, while they were knocked out of the Capital One Cup at the third round stage in September.

They have suffered some notable injury setbacks, with the latest being the loss of defender Antolin Alcaraz for up to 12 weeks due to a dislocated shoulder sustained in Saturday's top-flight 0-0 draw with Swansea.

But Toffees boss Martinez is confident in his group's ability to handle whatever is thrown at them.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Thursday's home Europa League clash with Lille, Martinez said: "I think we have adapted really very well.

"I have been very impressed with the manner in which, as a squad, we have been facing every game full of energy and full of desire.

"We want to grow into this competition, try to be as good as we can, and clearly the first objective is to try to get through (to the knockout rounds).

"Step by step, we are enjoying the demands of this season."

Then asked if he thought his squad was strong enough to cope with the injuries coming its way, the Spaniard said: "Yes, and I think we have shown that.

"In football, you can take two approaches - one is to start moaning about injuries and suspensions. The other is to look at opportunities.

"I felt once the summer transfer window shut we had a strong enough squad in terms of quality and numbers to face the Europa League and the domestic competitions.

"The answer is clear - yes, we can cope with injuries, suspensions and the demands of the games.

"I have been very pleased with the manner in which we have adapted to the travelling, to playing Thursdays and Sundays.

"I think the mentality of the group has been ready in terms of being able to perform consistently in every competition."

Martinez has made several changes to his team for the last two Europa League fixtures, and added: "I think there is not such a thing as a weakened side.

"I don't see a weakened side by making four, five, six changes. I think the real strength we have proven is that, making changes, we are ready to face the games.

"It doesn't mean we are not taking things seriously or that we don't expect the team to perform in a manner where they could win.

"If we want to become a big club with a big mentality, we need to face many, many games in a short period of time - and then you need a large squad. I think we have responded to it really well."

Alcaraz has joined fellow defender John Stones (ankle) on the sidelines and in the absence of that pair, Martinez is set to bring either veteran Sylvain Distin or youngster Tyias Browning into his first XI at centre-back on Thursday.

On the potential timescale for 32-year-old Paraguayan Alcaraz's period out, Martinez said: ''The decision now is if he needs surgery or not, and it is one we are going to measure well and make the right call.

"So it would depend - between six and 12 weeks, depending on the route we are taking.''

Kevin Mirallas (hamstring), Bryan Oviedo and Arouna Kone (both match fitness) are also unavailable for first-team selection at present, but Darron Gibson is in contention again after missing the weekend's game due to a knock.

Meanwhile, Martinez has dismissed reports linking him with the manager's job at Inter Milan.

He said: "I think you can't comment on things that come out in the press, otherwise you will be filling a lot of hours talking about speculation.

"There is nothing for me to comment on."

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