Everton V Spurs at Goodison Park : Match Preview

03 November 2013 11:43
Everton V Spurs - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Martinez seeks to 'bridge the gap'

Everton manager Roberto Martinez believes if his side can negotiate the next three months without too many mishaps they will be in a good position challenge the Premier League's big spenders.

An encouraging start to the season has seen the Toffees take 19 points from nine matches to sit sixth in the table ahead of the weekend's games and still within striking distance of the top.

No-one is suggesting the Spaniard's side are capable of mounting a title challenge but Martinez believes if they can stay in touch with the top four into the new year it gives them a chance of bridging the gap.

On Sunday Everton kick off that spell at home to Tottenham, one of just four clubs currently above them who they will face in the 14 matches until the end of January - although they do play Liverpool twice and go to Manchester United, who are four points behind them.

"In any season you want to be in a strong position in the final third of the season," said Martinez.

"We have been very pleased with the start of the season and the way the squad is shaping up, now it is a matter of getting through the middle third of the campaign and seeing where that takes us.

"It is in our DNA to win trophies and leagues and we need to use that to our advantage.

"You always work towards that. How long is it going to take? It could be a season, but remember that there is a huge difference between us and the group of teams working at a certain financial level.

"But I always believe in football it is not always about finances. You just need the time to bridge that gap you have.

"We are not financially fighting with the clubs who are spending to win the league or get into the Champions League but I believe with the characters we have at the club we can challenge that but it will take time to bridge the gap."

As the Toffees have not been - and will not be - able to compete on the same financial footing as the top-flight's big six, Martinez knows he must find other ways.

He believes it can be achieved with a solid club structure, sound footballing philosophy and the development of youth.

"It can be done but you need time, you need to be patient and brave as a club and give opportunities to youngsters," he added.

"That takes composure to be able to see a player growing and allow him to give you that extra edge.

"When you spend the money you don't have to see the player developing, you can see his full potential.

"We are working well with the youngsters and the recruitment on that side.

"I am proud of the players we have here and we should aim high and be as good as we can be in that middle third."

Striker Arouna Kone is ruled out of Sunday's visit of Tottenham with a knee injury but defender John Heitinga returns to the squad after sitting out the last two matches with a muscle problem.

Defender Danny Rose has still not recovered from a foot injury and will miss out for Spurs.

Full-back Kyle Naughton has a 50 per cent chance of playing after suffering a thigh injury against Hull on Wednesday in the Capital One Cup, but winger Andros Townsend is fit after recovering from his nasty fall in last weekend's victory over Hull.

Andre Villas-Boas thinks Younes Kaboul's injury troubles are now well and truly behind him.

Kaboul looks set to start successive games for the first time under Villas-Boas on Sunday when Tottenham travel to Goodison Park.

The France defender has been hit by a series of injuries over the last 18 months.

But after watching the 27-year-old come through 120 minutes worth of action against Hull on Wednesday night, Villas-Boas believes the centre-back is now over the worst of his problems.

"Kaboul was extraordinary on Wednesday," the Tottenham manager said.

"We planned to take him off in the 60th minute. He was giving me signs he had to come off in the 63rd minute but that was when (Nacer) Chadli was injured, and he gave the thumbs up to continue.

"It was good that he played 120 minutes. I think we've finally buried his recurrent injuries.

"That's a great credit to the player and our medical department. "There is a possibility he will make the team selection to start at Everton.

"It's a big decision I have to make bearing in the mind the amount of effort he put in. But he is a great player for us."

Source: PA