There may have been more than a few eyebrows raised by Everton manager Roberto Martinez’s recent claim that his side do not need to recruit in January.
He told the club’s website:
“January is not the place to find solutions. Our moment of form, we want to change, but the solutions are in the squad.
“With Arouna Kone being fully fit, I see him as a replacement for Samuel’s [Eto’o] position and it is more about trying to get the players back from injury.
“Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman have been two players missing throughout the season, which has been disappointing because they are important in the way we want to play.
“Leon played in every single game last season and we miss what he brings. So I am looking around that.”
Yet, despite the Spaniard’s breezy stock take there remain at least three positions in which the Toffees can clearly be improved…
Everton fans would be right to point out that their side had won just 17 per cent of their 2014/15 games without the returning Osman in the starting line up.
However, they’ve won an even-more shocking seven per cent of their fixtures without James McCarthy in the XI – in short their understudies are not yet good enough.
As Martinez noted, injury has limited Pienaar to three league starts this term, yet he’s still provided more assists than all his teammates bar left-wing kindred spirit Leighton Baines.
Aiden McGeady, Ross Barkley and Kevin Mirallas have only set up one more between them despite a combined 2,599 more minutes of top-flight football.
Phil Jagielka may remain an England centre-half, as is John Stones, although Roy Hodgson still lacks the courage to play the latter in his natural position.
However, now that the years appear to be finally catching up with the venerable Sylvain Distin the back up available to Martinez’s first-choice pairing is of an insufficient standard.
Everton are slight 7/5 favourites to end Crystal Palace’s four-match winning streak as McCarthy returns to the line-up when the pair do battle at Selhurst Park.