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Hands off Kevin Mirallas, warns Everton boss Roberto Martinez

By Eleanor Crooks

Everton manager Roberto Martinez insists he will not welcome bids for Kevin Mirallas during the January transfer window and expects him to play a big role this season.

The Belgium international made his first Premier League start since the opening day of the season against Newcastle on Boxing Day.

He has since returned to the bench and Monaco are the latest team to be linked with a move for the 28-year-old, who signed a new three-year deal in the summer.

Martinez admits his squad is too big and players like Steven Naismith, who is interesting Norwich, may be allowed to leave this month, but, asked if an approach for Mirallas would be welcomed, the Toffees boss said: "No, not at all.

"Kevin signed a new contract in the summer. He had a really strong pre-season. We allow football to make decisions. We've got really good attacking options and Kevin was unfortunate.

"He started the first game against Watford and from there he had a little injury and got a three-game suspension, but the way he's been working in the last few weeks earned him a start against Newcastle and he did well.

"I expect Kevin to have a major influence in the second half of the season."

Martinez has been reluctant to lose players too early in the window because of Everton's hectic fixture list.

They play the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final against Manchester City at Goodison Park tonight before an FA Cup third round clash with Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday.

Tonight's game is a hard one to predict because City's away form has been as shaky as Everton's at home.

Martinez insisted he would have preferred the legs to be the other way around, saying: "When you've got a two-legged affair, you want the second leg at home.

"I know Goodison will be rocking and what we're going to see will be special. I think the League Cup has been a phenomenal competition for us. We've seen the home and away support helping the team to get through.

"I feel that playing at home, Goodison at its very intimidating best, we can face anyone."

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