Premier League News: 12th December 2013

Everton manager Roberto Martinez has confirmed that he hopes to tie Ross Barkley and Sylvain Distin down to new Goodison Park contracts.

Youngster Barkley has been given rave reviews for his displays this season while veteran central defender Distin continues to be the model of consistency.

Distin is entering the final six months of his contract while Barkley signed a four-and-a-half-year deal in December 2011 but is likely to be offered new improved terms.

Martinez said: “You can imagine we are always working behind the scenes to try to reward youngsters who do well at the club, and Ross is clearly that.

“There is nothing to announce but, even when you don’t speak about issues, we work hard to make sure that the youngsters get rewarded and Ross clearly deserves that.

We work hard to make sure that the youngsters get rewarded and Ross clearly deserves that.

Roberto Martinez

“Sylvain has been a terrific performer this season and we couldn’t be happier with his role at the club. All these issues are vital for us and we are going to look after them straight after this Christmas period.”

Meanwhile, Martinez remains upbeat about the chances of Leighton Baines returning to action before the new year. The left-back broke a toe in last month’s 3-3 draw with Liverpool and was expected to be sidelined for up to six weeks.

However, Martinez said of the England international: “It is one of those injuries which is so frustrating. Leighton is feeling great but, when you start to do some work, you realise you still have a period to heal the fracture and give it some more time.

“I don’t think he will be available for Saturday – although I wouldn’t discount it – and it will be more realistic for the next couple of weeks.”

Everton, who have only lost one Premier League match this season and can be backed at 4/1 to finish in the top four, face Fulham on Saturday. Martinez’s side are available at 6/1 to beat the Cottagers 2-0 with Romelu Lukaku 13/5 to open the scoring.

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