Everton boss Roberto Martinez is less than popular at the moment with Republic of Ireland Assistant Manager Roy Keane. The Manchester United legend has reportedly demanded talks between Martin O’Neill and the Everton supremo over the state of James McCarthy and Seamus Coleman’s fitness when it comes to internationals. With the two Everton first team regulars having both missed Republic of Ireland games recently (McCarthy withdrew at late notice from their defeat to Scotland last Friday) the question remains, will they be fit and firing against the Hammers next Saturday?
If Roy Keane’s intimation is to be believed then, unfortunately for Hammers fans, both men (along with Leighton Baines – who withdrew from England training – and Darren Gibson, who took a knock in the Republic’s defeat) will feature on Saturday. Big Sam’s men may be enjoying a purple patch at the moment but Everton are still valued at odds on for the win by the footballing experts at Blue Square. Without these stars Everton’s squad begin to look a little fragile but if they are available then it will be a tough assignment for the Irons.
Roberto Martinez finds himself in a tough position, possessing a talented, if limited, squad and trying to compete on a number of fronts. The Toffees’ Europa League form has certainly hindered their early season progress and they have been stretched to the limit by injuries. With Gareth Barry already missing, the absence of McCarthy or Gibson would be tough for Martinez to cope with and could allow the Hammers to dominate in midfield on Saturday.
Given Everton’s fixture pile-up and their small squad it easy to see why Martinez may have encouraged one or two of his players to pull out of the international set-up if they had slight knocks – West Ham fans would surely hope that Big Sam would do the same.
It is amazing what a few days off can do, however, and I would be surprised if Everton’s team on Saturday is much short of full-strength. That could be enough to incur Roy Keane’s wrath again, and would certainly not be welcomed by Allardyce, but it would justify the big odds on a West Ham win.