Everton latest: World Cup striker linked with Toffees switch

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A large part of Everton's success last season was the development of young players, but the development of the club's academy graduates could be damaged after Academy Director Alan Irvine left to take the West Bromwich Albion head coaching job, and Under-21 coach Alan Stubbs departed to take over at Hibernian. However, Toffees boss Roberto Martinez has played down the departures, saying the club will still develop players without them.

"The academy is more of a focus of the football club, rather than having individuals," said Martinez. "We have fantastic coaches and fantastic people ready to help that path and we will always make sure our youngsters have every opportunity to develop."

One of the players to make the grade out of the Everton academy is midfielder Ross Barkley, and he got his first World Cup start for England against Costa Rica on Tuesday. The 20-year-old is considered as England's next big hope, but the Toffees star says that he hopes Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard - two players that Barkley is tipped to replace - continue their England careers despite talk of international retirement.

"They give great advice and you have got to listen to them because they are high calibre players," said Barkley. "I am a young lad and hearing advice from them throughout this tournament has helped me. It'll help me in the future Obviously, I want them (Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard) to carry on but it is their decision."

Manager Martinez will now be looking to strengthen his squad ahead of the club's Europa League campaign, and one name who has once again been linked with a move to Merseyside is former Celtic striker Giorgos Samaras. The Greek forward scored the winning injury-time penalty on Tuesday night to take Greece into the last 16 of the World Cup, but he is currently a free agent. Martinez may be looking towards Samaras as a cheap depth option, as Samaras looks to return to England after a failed spell with Manchester City.

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