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first_imgEverton boss Roberto Martinez has stressed he views talk linking him with other clubs the same way as he does speculation involving his players – as a “compliment”. Reports have emerged suggesting Tottenham are looking at Martinez as a potential successor to Tim Sherwood. When asked about it ahead of Sunday’s trip to Hull, the Toffees manager said: “It is a little bit as I always answer – any sort of speculation we take as a real footballing compliment. “This is the time you are going to get rumours, with talk about new squads and the next moves. “From our point of view, it means we have done something right – that, as a football team, we are performing well. “That affects players, members of staff and managers. We take it in a positive manner and just carry on working hard.” Martinez certainly has a growing number of admirers, with Everton having performed impressively since he took over at Goodison Park almost a year ago. Ahead of their campaign-concluding clash with Hull, the Toffees have already as good as secured fifth place in the Barclays Premier League table – they are three points ahead of sixth-placed Tottenham with a vastly superior goal difference – and for much of 2013-14 they have been very much in contention for a top-four finish. Loan signings such as midfielder Gareth Barry and striker Romelu Lukaku, both recruited on season-long deals at the start of the term, have been key and there has been plenty of talk about them extending their stays with the Merseyside outfit. Martinez will be sitting down with all of his players to hold talks soon after the season ends, although he has already said he feels the situation regarding Belgium international Lukaku, scorer of 15 goals for Everton this season while on loan from Chelsea, will not be resolved until after this summer’s World Cup. Martinez said on Friday: “I’m going to be speaking to all the players. Press Association “We are going to make sure that with every player, we have a real indication of where we are – that is no different with Gareth or Romelu.” Asked whether a permanent deal for Lukaku was realistic, the Spaniard added: “You have to remember that the parent club is the one that holds the registration, and I’m sure Romelu will have a strong say in the summer as well. “In terms of what is around the corner for any player that is on loan, you should ask the parent club what their ideas are about the next step for their player.” The other players in the Everton squad that have got people talking this season are their young English talents. Twenty-year-old midfielder Ross Barkley has particularly shone and looks set to join his more senior Toffees team-mates Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines in the England squad for the World Cup. There have also been calls of late for Everton’s 19-year-old defender John Stones to be rewarded for his fine performances by being included in the party for Brazil. The chances of that happening seem to have lessened with the news that Manchester United’s Phil Jones should be available despite picking up a shoulder problem earlier this week. Either way, Martinez has reiterated his confidence that Stones will be “ready” if England boss Roy Hodgson does select him. “If he decides the youngsters are to be called up to the World Cup, I can guarantee you they are ready,” Martinez said. “John Stones has shown he is in a very good moment of form and at a very good level. “Character-wise, I can guarantee anyone that he is ready to embrace whatever challenge comes his way. “The truth is that the young players have had a huge role. “You need to judge players by their performances. The age shouldn’t affect the role of a player in a national team. “Players like Ross Barkley and John Stones have been playing beyond their years and their performances have been of a calibre whereby you know they will help, whatever team they represent.” Everton defender Sylvain Distin is not convinced it would be the right thing for Stones, though. Distin, quoted by the Liverpool Echo, said: “Stonesy has only played half the season for us and even though he’s a special talent, we need to let him mature and not put pressure on his shoulders now. It’s way too early. “Stonesy has been amazing since he started playing for us, that’s for sure. But it’s a bit too soon” last_img


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