Roberto Martinez discusses PFA-nominated Everton pair, suggests why they have been so successful this season

Roberto Martinez

The Toffees manager believes the increased maturity of Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley is the reason they have kicked on so well this season.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez has hailed PFA-nominated pair Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley, telling the club's official website that the duo's increased maturity is the key reason their success this season.

The Belgian striker and England international midfielder have both been recognised for their superb individual seasons by being nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award.

Despite Everton's uninspiring campaign, both players have achieved personal goalscoring records this term, with Lukaku scoring 25 times in all competitions and Barkley adding 12 strikes, as well as netting twice for England.

Martinez hailed the pair for their superb form, and told the club's official website that, despite their nominations in the Young Player category, they have started to act like old hands on and off the pitch.

The Spanish manager told evertonfc.com: "I don't think they've played like young players and that is the more interesting aspect of Romelu and Ross. This season, they have taken their own personal roles to the next level.

"You always get new roles appearing in a dressing room when you've got older players and you need fresh blood - and you need younger players to take up those roles. I think Rom and Ross have been extremely consistent and responsible in doing that.

"We're pleased that they've gotten the recognition that they deserve but more importantly for us is keeping them fresh to make sure that they now finish the season really strongly."

Everton have a hectic period coming up over the next 10 days as they build up to their potentially season-defining FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United at Wembley a week on Sunday.

Before that tie, they host high-flying Southampton at Goodison Park on Saturday before making the short trip across the city to face Liverpool in the Merseyside derby at Anfield in midweek.

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