Everton latest: Martinez hopeful over fitness of key duo

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Everton will head into this weekend's huge clash with Arsenal just four points behind the Gunners in the race for fourth place, and with a game in hand also in Everton's favour, there is a sense of belief on Merseyside that Roberto Martinez's side could be playing Champions League football this season. Despite Ross Barkely sustaining an injury against Fulham last weekend, Martinez is hopeful that the England international will be fit to face Arsenal.

"Ross had a knock on his calf and he is recovering well from it," Martinez said. "He is such a powerful boy that he coped with that knock well but obviously it was a problem straight after when the body gets cold.

"He's such a quick healer and a young man so we hope he is going to recover in time for the game on Sunday. Over the next three or four days we will have a clearer idea of where he is and we are going to treat every day as it comes."

Barkley's return would be a huge boost to Martinez, who has been without fellow midfielder Steven Pienaar for a month now after the South African suffered a knee injury against Arsenal in the FA Cup, and Martinez is still hopeful that the former Ajax and Borussia Dortmund star will be able to play again before the end of the season.

"Stevie is doing well," Martinez told the club's official website. "Obviously it was a real setback to lose him. Recovering from (an injury to) the cartilage in the knee can be tricky but at the moment he is recovering well.

"I'm hopeful that we can see Stevie before the season ends and that is where the focus goes. But he's been lively and has been working well. It is going to be really positive for us if we can get him back before the season ends."

It seems that each day, a new striker is linked with a move to Everton as the club consider potential replacements for Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian international is the top scorer for the Toffees but will head back to Chelsea upon the expiration of his loan deal, and with CSKA Moscow's Seydou Doumbia and Sevilla's Carlos Bacca already linked this week, it's Alexandre Lacazette's turn today. The Lyon man has had an impressive season in Ligue 1, which has also alerted Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle, but Everton are hopeful of adding the 22-year-old.

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