Roberto Martinez has told the Liverpool Echo that James McCarthy is a ‘very, very important’ player for Everton.
McCarthy recently missed 12 games with injury, before returning to Everton’s starting line-up to face Carlisle United in the FA Cup.
Everton won that match against the League Two club 3-0 - and the victory seems to have sparked the Toffees into life.
Martinez’s side have since enjoyed comfortable wins over Newcastle United and Stoke City, with McCarthy playing prominent roles in both contests.
And Martinez said: "The amount of games he has played for Everton now means he has become a player who knows what to expect and who can create those partnerships which are so important, on and off the ball. As a manager he gives you a really good balance in any team you put out there.
“It’s important that you look at stats, and the stats never lie. Since he came off at Bournemouth with an injury there has been a different outcome in the way that we have defended.
“That doesn’t mean anything apart from that James is a very, very important player for us. He has tremendous qualities that, as a manager, you really value, and I think the fans do as well when he is not on the pitch.”
McCarthy’s place in Everton’s team did seem to be under threat during his initial time out, with Muhamed Besic coming in and performing admirable.
However, the Bosnian failed to keep his place in the team, and McCarthy has reestablished his position in Martinez’s starting line-up.
Although McCarthy is far from Everton’s most notable headline maker, they have only lost three matches when he has started this campaign, and keeping him fit could be crucial to the Merseyside club’s chances of climbing up the Premier League table between now and the end of the season.