Image: Kevin Mirallas celebrates scoring the second goal for Everton. Everton v Leicester City – Barclays Premier League – Goodison Park – 19/12/15. Reuters / Phil Noble Livepic
(Reuters) – Everton manager Roberto Martinez says Kevin Mirallas is still a part of his plans and the club are not open to selling the midfielder in January, despite him playing only a bit-part role in the first half of the season.
The Belgian has made only two starts in 10 Premier League appearances so far this campaign.
The 28-year-old has been linked with a move away in the transfer window as he seeks more first-team action ahead of the European Championship finals in France, with French side Monaco interested in signing the winger, according to media reports.
Speaking at his pre-match news conference ahead of Wednesday’s League Cup semi-final first leg against Manchester City, Martinez said he could trim his squad this month, but denied that he would welcome bids for Mirallas.
“I expect Kevin to have a major influence in the second half of the season,” the Spaniard said.
“Kevin signed a new contract in the summer. He had a really strong pre-season. We allow football to make decisions. We’ve got really good attacking options and Kevin was unfortunate.
“He started the first game against Watford and from there he had a little injury, he got a three-game suspension, but the way he’s been working in the last few weeks earned him a start against Newcastle and he did really well.”
Martinez said he intended to keep faith with understudy goalkeeper Joel Robles, who has played in the cup games for Everton this season, and that defender Phil Jagielka was likely to return from injury in the FA Cup tie against Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday.
The Spaniard backed his team to pose City problems in the home leg at Goodison Park, but said he would have preferred to play away first.
“When you’ve got a two-legged affair, you want the second leg at home,” Martinez said.
“I know Goodison will be rocking and what we’re going to see tomorrow will be special. I think the League Cup has been a phenomenal competition for us. We’ve seen the home and away support helping the team to get through.
“I feel that playing at home, Goodison at its very intimidating best, we can face anyone.”
(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; editing by Toby Davis)
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