Toffees boss keeping James under wraps
ROBERTO Martinez has wrapped James McCarthy in cotton wool and avoided any risk that he might aggravate tight muscles in Europa League action against FC Kardonas tonight.
The news that McCarthy has been left behind with Seamus Coleman while the rest of the Everton squad set off for Russia yesterday must have sent a shiver of apprehension down Martin O'Neill's spine.
McCarthy reported tight quad muscles after Everton's derby draw with Liverpool at the weekend but for once, Martinez's wishes coincide with that of an Ireland international manager.
Martinez clashed with Giovanni Trapattoni over McCarthy's availability on a number of occasions while he was Wigan boss but on this occasion, he clearly feels that the player is better back in England taking it easy than flogging himself in Eastern Europe.
Both McCarthy and Coleman must prove their fitness in time for Everton's big Premier League clash with Manchester United on Sunday before they link up with O'Neill and Ireland in Dublin on Tuesday to prepare for Euro qualifiers against Gibraltar and Germany.
Coleman's injury has been described a soft tissue knock, which is something of a relief given O'Neill's suggestion that a scan he had while he was with Ireland in the run-up to the Euro 2016 opener against Georgia revealed slight damage near his hamstring.
However, current thinking at Goodison points to both players likely to be in contention for Sunday's league trip to Old Trafford.
The same applies to Sylvain Distin (rested) and Steven Pienaar (quad), two others missing from the party for tonight's game.
Ross Barkley (knee) and Arouna Kone, recently back involved after a long-term knee injury, are also absentees.
Winger Kevin Mirallas is facing "a while" on the sidelines due to his hamstring injury.
Mirallas sustained the problem at Anfield, the Belgium international having to come off in the first half of the Premier League contest.
Martinez had already admitted the signs were "not great" with regard to the problem as Everton waited to learn the full extent of it.
"At the moment it is still a bit early because the inflammation in the area doesn't allow us to get the full extent.
"But clearly it is an injury that will keep him out for a while," said Martinez.
In terms of those who are included, Martinez has selected a trio of youngsters in Tyias Browning, Luke Garbutt and Ryan Ledson, while in Samuel Eto'o and Aiden McGeady, he has two players in the group who have experience of playing for Russian clubs - Anzhi Makhachkala and Spartiak Moscow respectively.
Martinez admits he has tried to utilise the pair's knowledge.
"It helps that Samuel Eto'o and Aiden McGeady have played in the league," Martinez said.
"It gives you a bit of an understanding of what you will face.
"When you come to an unknown environment like the one we have now, I think you can embrace it when you have a little bit of detail from some of the players.
"The word is that the Russian league is exciting, there is a lot of investment behind it and the teams are developing really strongly.
"We are not going to underestimate the game tomorrow. It has been clear for the players, having that insight from Aiden and Samuel - it has helped us to look forward and embrace the challenge tomorrow."
FC Krasnodar v Everton
(LIVE SETANTA IRE 5.0)