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After Everton swept aside Harry Redknapp's Queens Park Rangers with a 4-0 FA Cup thumping, Toffees boss Roberto Martinez praised the strength in depth of his side having rested a number of key players. The likes of Romelu Lukaku, Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka played no part in the romp over the Championship side, but Everton still managed to hit four in a great win and Martinez singled out his defence for praise.
"We had big senior players out of the side. When that role is fulfilled by youngsters it is important they do it with responsibility and enjoy their football, and I thought that was the case.” said Martinez.
"Joel Robles came in with Bryan Oviedo, and there was the partnership with John Stones and Antolin Alcaraz. Everyone fitted into the team structure and looked like they had been playing together for a long time. That's down to the players and how they work on a daily basis and how they know each other's game.”
"It's the competition for places that we need. That strength in the squad will allow us to have a confident outlook and we have got a lot of people who we can rely on."
Following the win over QPR, Everton were entered in to the draw for the fourth round of the FA Cup and were paired up with League One strugglers Stevenage. The two sides met in the Capital One Cup earlier this season, where a Marouane Fellaini goal in extra time gave the Premier League outfit a 2-1 win.
This time, Everton could have a new face in the lineup as Martinez continues to pursue winger Aiden McGeady. The former Celtic man is currently on the fringes of the Spartak Moscow team and has announced his intentions to leave the club, and Everton are reportedly on the verge of striking a deal for the Republic of Ireland international. With Gerard Deulofeu injured and likely to return to Barcelona at the end of the season, Martinez needed to make a move both for the short and the long term and bringing McGeady in would certainly represent that.
Dutch defender Johnny Heitinga continues to be linked with a move away from Merseyside despite turning down a transfer to Premier League rivals West Ham last week. The former Ajax man is well behind Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka in the pecking order at centre back, with even Stones and Alcaraz given the starts against QPR. Heitinga could now be a target for Chris Hughton at Norwich, who is looking to solidify his defence in order to stay afloat.
image: © Ben Sutherland