Roberto Martinez hits back at Toffees critics
Everton boss Roberto Martinez has hit back at what he feels has been some "cheap talk" about his players' efforts of late.
After pulling off a fine 4-1 Europa League last-32 first-leg victory over Young Boys in Bern last Thursday, Martinez's men returned to less-than-impressive Premier League form on Sunday, scraping a 2-2 home draw against bottom side Leicester.
Among those criticised over their performances in the Leicester game - which left 12th-placed Everton with a record of only two wins in 14 league matches - were 21-year-olds Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley.
But in his press conference to preview tonight's second leg against Young Boys at Goodison Park, Martinez was keen to speak up for his charges.
The Spaniard (right) said: "I think there has been a lot of cheap talk from the outside - a lot of talk about Romelu Lukaku, about Ross Barkley and about our form.
"We just accept that - all we need to do is focus on winning games and enjoying our football."
Although he failed to convert several chances across the last two games, striker Lukaku scored a hat-trick in the Young Boys contest to take his tally for the season to 13, before seeing his header deflect in off Leicester defender Matthew Upson for Everton's late equaliser on Sunday.
Barkley, meanwhile, struggled in that fixture but had also shone in Switzerland.
And Martinez added: "If you have a player who can create many chances and score a hat-trick, and then force the defender to get an own-goal, I think that's an outstanding contribution. You can decide to criticise it or to admire it.
"Rom is 21 and still learning, but to have that sort of impact is a big asset from our point of view. The amount of chances he is creating is pleasing me, converted or not - that is just a matter of time."