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Saturday 16 December 2017

Toffees ready to face sticky test with Young Boys

Roberto Martinez is feeling positive about his side
Roberto Martinez is feeling positive about his side

Everton boss Roberto Martinez has stressed his confidence that his players are ready for the challenge of facing Young Boys on the Swiss side's artificial pitch.

In preparation for today's Europa League last-32 first leg, the Toffees have been training on a similar surface. Young Boys have won all five of their European games at their Stade de Suisse home this term, including a 2-0 victory over Napoli.

Martinez said: "Obviously it is a completely different surface and the bounce of the ball is different. The home team are a bit more used to those conditions.

"But we have done our preparation - the whole week we have been working on that sort of surface, and I feel we are ready. It is not an excuse for us not to compete."

Everton head into the game off the back of an impressive effort in the group stage.

They accrued 11 points en route to claiming top spot in Group H. However, their domestic form has been more disappointing, with early exits in both cups and winning only two of their last 13 Premier League fixtures.

Martinez, whose side came fifth in the Premier League last season but are 12th at the moment, hopes continued success in Europe can help the Merseysiders gain some momentum.

The Spaniard said: "For us to be involved in the Europa League is a phenomenal opportunity to grow as a team. We have never had a real momentum in the league but we have been pristine in Europe. We want to take this competitive edge into the Premier League and finish the season as strong as we can."

Full-back Leighton Baines and midfielder Aiden McGeady are among eight Everton players not to have made the trip to Bern for the game.

Both have missed the last two matches due to knee complaints.

BSC YOUNG BOYS V EVERTON (LIVE SETANTA IRE 6.0)

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