Everton vs AFC Bournemouth - Roberto Martinez gives youth a chance as season nears its end

Posted Saturday, April 30, 2016 by PA

Roberto Martinez plans to put his faith in youth as he fights for his future as Everton boss.

Martinez knows some fans are calling for his head, with protests planned during's Saturday's visit of Bournemouth, but has yet to seek or receive any official backing from the board.

Any further fall from the Toffees' current position of 11th in the Barclays Premier League table could seal the Spaniard's fate, but he will not shy away from blooding home-grown talent in the coming weeks.

Tom Davies and Callum Connolly both made debuts from the bench against Southampton last month and with injured trio Phil Jagielka, Seamus Coleman and Gareth Barry joining the suspended Ramiro Funes Mori in the stands, there could be more chances.

Matthew Pennington, recently recalled from a loan spell at Walsall, could feature at the heart of defence and a debut for 18-year-old playmaker Kieran Dowell appears imminent.

Dowell scored a hat-trick for the Under-21s against Leicester in midweek, watched by Martinez, and is being primed for his senior bow.

"Kieran has been outstanding in his performances, I don't think you could find a better adjective than 'outstanding' to describe the consistency he's had with the Under-21s and the quality he brings," he said.

John Stones and Ross Barkley are two recent examples of inexperienced players rising to prominence - and full England honours - through the Everton ranks.

Both are regularly linked with moves away from the club and Martinez is clear that he demands the very best from anyone he picks between now and the end of the season - be it Dowell and Pennington or their highly-coveted colleagues.

"Whoever is on the pitch needs to reach a level of intensity or responsibility or drive or quality," he said.

"It's no good going through the motions or expecting you're going to have the opportunity to represent Everton for the rest of your career."

Eddie Howe insists he remains fully committed to Bournemouth amid reports suggesting he could be the next Everton manager.

Asked if he would be interested in succeeding Martinez should he leave Everton, Howe told reporters at his Friday morning press conference: "I don't think I have to reaffirm my commitment here every week, which seems to be a regular pattern. I love it here and I'm committed to the job.

"You've got to win games to stay in work and I'm fully committed to this job here."

Howe is keen to protect Harry Arter's long-term future as the midfielder continues to battle a persistent Achilles problem.

The Republic of Ireland international suffered the injury during the home win against south coast rivals Southampton at the beginning of March and has played just 45 minutes of football since.

"It's been difficult for him because he's the type of character that wants to play, as they all do, every week," said Howe.

"We just hope that he's fit beyond this season and of course this summer is a big one for him. We will wait and see what happens."

Arter is unlikely to be involved at Goodison Park and Howe remains uncertain how long full-back Adam Smith will continue to be sidelined by his groin injury.

However, Max Gradel may be back in the Bournemouth squad that travels to Merseyside. Gradel missed the home defeat to Chelsea with the calf problem that saw him withdrawn during the previous game against Liverpool but the forward has improved this week and could return to contention.

"Adam Smith has seen a specialist and we're waiting for some definitive feedback on him," said Howe.

"Max is improving slightly, he took a knock but we hope he'll be okay. Again we'll take our time on him but we're hopeful he'll get fit."



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