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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Martinez: League more important than FA Cup

Roberto Martinez Photo: PA
Roberto Martinez Photo: PA

Roberto Martinez denied that Everton need an FA Cup run to save their season.

The Toffees have flattered to deceive for much of the campaign and saw a promising little run ended by last week's defeat against West Brom, their sixth at home in the Premier League.

They travel to Bournemouth in the fifth round of the FA Cup tomorrow, but boss Martinez insisted qualifying for Europe through the league remains the focus. Everton sit 11th in the table, five points behind seventh-placed West Ham and six adrift of Manchester United in fifth.

Asked if the cup could be the club's salvation, he said: "No, not at all. First of all we need to look at the league.

"We're going into the final third of the season. That means 36 points to fight for, and we are not far away from the European places. That's what we're going to fight for.

"The team is mentally ready. I think we showed so far this season what we can achieve. In the League Cup, we got into the semi-final.

"I thought we had a really good, brave, double-leg semi-final with Manchester City. We were disappointed not to get through and I think it shows how far the expectations have grown and how far we've come.

"In the FA Cup we are in the fifth round, facing another Premier League side away from home, understanding the difficulties that brings but in the same way very much looking forward to that opportunity." Martinez has felt the heat from some supporters over Everton's results.

Frustration has mounted that, in a season that has seen the usual suspects struggle, the Toffees have not been able to take advantage in the way that the likes of Leicester, Southampton and West Ham have.

Martinez, meanwhile, has refused to comment on reports linking Chelsea goalkeeper Asmir Begovic with an £8million summer switch to Goodison Park.

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