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Martinez opens striker search

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15 Jan 2014 21:16:56

Martinez opens striker search

Everton manager Roberto Martinez is actively seeking a replacement for Nikica Jelavic after the Croatia international completed his move to Hull.

While the arrival of Aiden McGeady from Spartak Moscow has boosted their attacking capabilities Martinez does not want to leave his side short up front.

On-loan Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku is the stand-out first-choice but with Arouna Kone likely to be out for the rest of the season with a knee injury the Toffees boss knows he has to find a back-up to help maintain, if not improve, their fifth-place position.

"What is important is that Aiden McGeady arriving has given us a bit more strength in the wide areas and there are many flexible players who can fill in to that number nine position," Martinez told evertonfc.com.

"But it would be an area that we are looking at before the window closes.

"We are looking at the options to see if there is a player with the right profile who would fit into the squad."

Such was the form of Lukaku, Jelavic barely got a chance in the first team and Martinez felt with the player due to go to the World Cup it was in everyone's best interests to allow him to leave.

"We agreed the deal (with Hull) and it was down to Nikica to make his decision," he added.

"I do believe when I spoke to Niki that he was clear that he wanted to join Hull.

"He felt he would get the opportunity to play the games he needs ahead of the World Cup."

Martinez is more concerned with keeping players than bringing in new ones in January and it appears he will be able to plan for a long-term future with Leighton Baines after making significant inroads over contract negotiations.

Despite the Spaniard's reluctance to talk about a new deal for the England left-back Press Association Sport understands there has been considerable groundwork done over the last couple of months.

That appears to have paved the way for the club to be optimistic the 29-year-old, whose current contract expires in 17 months, will agree to extend his stay.

Having fended off bids from former Toffees boss David Moyes at Manchester United in the summer Martinez said they wanted to reward Baines' loyalty with an improved deal but the Spaniard has been wary over speaking publicly about negotiations.

Keeping Baines out of the hands of United would be a major coup for Everton and a sign of how Martinez's arrival in the summer as Moyes' successor has had a huge effect.

The club sit just one point behind fourth-placed Merseyside rivals Liverpool and have lost just twice all season as the Spaniard's change in style has reaped instant rewards.

Martinez significantly gave youngster Ross Barkley a key role in his midfield and has seen the 20-year-old blossom as a result, winning his first senior England cap and putting himself in with a good chance of securing a place in Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad.

Barkley is currently contracted until 2016, having signed a long-term deal in December 2011, but could also be in line for a new contract in line with his rising importance in the side.

The midfielder travelled to Tenerife with the rest of the squad for a warm-weather training break despite being ruled out for possibly three weeks with a broken toe.


PA

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