All the latest news, views and transfer rumours from Goodison Park...
Everton are out of contention for the top four after losing to Manchester City last weekend, but the performance of Ross Barkley in that game has set tongues wagging once again over the young midfielder. The 20-year-old scored a fantastic goal to give the Toffees the lead and was the star player on the day with drive and determination, but his manager Roberto Martinez has moved to calm expectations ahead of the World Cup.
“Will England expect to win the World Cup because of Ross Barkley? No. That is what we need to be clear on. He has the potential to be one of the best midfielders in world football at the age of 25, 26, 27 — but not now. If the role in the World Cup is to carry England, that is not Ross Barkley. But if it is someone that ‘will he be ready to help the team? Will he be ready mentally and nothing will faze him?’ Yes, he has that character," said Martinez.
“But if we say ‘is Ross Barkley the man to bring England to win the World Cup,’ no we need to be more sensible and protect a young man who, for me, is the best young English talent I’ve seen and worked with. I hope we can fulfil his potential and give him what he needs over the years," added the Spaniard.
The Toffees now head into the last game of the season seeking to rubber-stamp their place in next season's Europa League, and manager Martinez suggested that long-term absentees Steven Pienaar and Darron Gibson could feature against Hull City this weekend.
"Steven has been working with the team and that is very positive," said Martinez, "We will assess him before Sunday to see whether he can play a part or not. Darron Gibson has been working with the team as well. That is really good timing because he has been able to finish the season strong from his point of view. I don't know if Darron will make it in time to be involved with the squad but it is a positive sign nonetheless."
Meanwhile, Everton will surely be active in the transfer market this summer as they look to strengthen their squad ahead of their Europa League campaign, but have been dealt a blow in their pursuit of Valencia youngster Carles Gil. The midfielder is currently on loan at fellow La Liga side Elche, but Valencia have said they will reject any bids for the 21-year-old.