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Sunday 20 August 2017

Martinez: Distin back to his old self again

Roberto Martinez felt playing football had become "a chore" for Sylvain Distin and believes the veteran defender is now refreshed after a spell out of the squad.

The 36-year-old has played almost 200 games for the Toffees since joining them in 2009 but Thursday's appearance in the Europa League against Lille was his first for a month.

Everton had a difficult start to the season defensively, conceding 13 goals in five games, but have since tightened up considerably.

With Distin left out, John Stones took over alongside Phil Jagielka in the centre, but the England defender is out for a lengthy spell with an ankle injury.

CLEAN SHEET

Antolin Alcaraz played in last weekend's 3-0 win over Aston Villa but, after keeping a clean sheet alongside Jagielka in Lille, Distin is in contention for a Premier League return when Everton visit Burnley tomorrow.

Boss Martinez said: "He showed he's refreshed, that he's ready to embrace the challenge he has ahead of him. There's really good competition for that centre-half role but I thought he was fantastic.

"He had a really good partnership with Phil Jagielka, they had to cope with a real threat from Lille and I thought he was back to his normal self."

Martinez is likely to make a number of changes from the side that held Lille to a goalless draw for the trip to Turf Moor.

Steven Naismith and Leon Osman were rested completely while Séamus Coleman was an unused substitute in France and James McCarthy played only the last few seconds.

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