Barry poised to enter 500 club
Roberto Martinez has paid tribute to Gareth Barry on the eve of a game which is likely to see the Everton midfielder join the elite band of players to have made 500 Barclays Premier League appearances.
Should, as expected, Barry feature for the Toffees against Newcastle on Monday night he would become just the 10th player since the Premier League's inception in 1992 to have played in 500 games, putting him in the company of the likes of Ryan Giggs, Frank Lampard and former Everton utility man Phil Neville.
The 32-year-old burst on to the scene with Aston Villa in 1997 and was a part of Manchester City's title-winning squad in 2012 prior to his summer loan move to Goodison Park.
His departure came as a shock to some in the City camp, according to Everton full-back Leighton Baines, and Martinez sees no indication Barry's talent will wane.
"I don't think there are many more significant records than that," the Everton boss said of Barry's potential landmark on Monday.
"I think it represents his professionalism, the way he looks after himself, the way he sees the game and the experience that he brings into any side.
"And you can add the 50 appearances he's had for England, so far. He's in such a great moment in his career."
While one of Martinez's recruits prepares for game number 500, another, defender Antolin Alcaraz, is still waiting for his Toffees debut.
The Paraguayan followed his manager's path from Wigan to Goodison Park this summer but is yet to pull on the Everton shirt due to a succession of injuries.
Martinez revealed the latest problem is a groin injury which is likely to see Alcaraz sidelined for another month yet.
"Nothing is more frustrating than injuries," the Spaniard added.
"As a player you can cope with any sort of disappointment. If you're not in the team, if you're not performing well, there's always that opportunity to go out and train next morning.
"When you're out of that day-to-day work in the dressing room you just don't feel like a footballer. When you arrive into a new club you want to have that feeling of being able to compete and show what you can do.
"But Antolin is a fighter, he is a leader, he's been through many, many situations. We are excited to see the best of Antolin in the next four weeks and I do feel that now we are going to be able to do it."
Martinez has better news elsewhere on the injury front with both Alcaraz's former Latics team-mate Arouna Kone and Leon Osman likely to overcome the injuries which kept them out of the midweek Capital One Cup loss to Fulham.
Central midfielder Darron Gibson has shown no reaction after returning from a knee injury and South African Steven Pienaar has an outside shot of recovering from his hamstring problem.
Those returns would give Martinez welcome selection dilemmas and he also reiterated his belief that on-loan Barcelona forward Gerard Deulofeu could have a huge role to play in the not-too distant future.
The boss reserved special praise for the teenager after the defeat at Craven Cottage which suggests he will soon be handed his first league start.
Martinez said: "I'm very excited about seeing the talent of Gerard Deulofeu winning football games for Everton."