Martinez tells McGeady to shape up or ship out
Roberto Martinez has told Aiden McGeady that he faces a big month as the winger fights for his Everton future.
The Ireland star's stock has fallen dramatically this season, with his only club appearance coming in a League Cup win over Barnsley in August where he was withdrawn at half-time.
That inactivity cost McGeady his starting place in Martin O'Neill's side for the Euro 2016 qualification run-in and the Ireland boss has indicated that he would like to see McGeady and his clubmate Darron Gibson playing more regularly with a view to France.
Martinez refused to be drawn on the possibility of a January move when asked about the Glaswegian's future by the Irish Independent yesterday, but suggested that a promising couple of weeks in training have pushed the player into the frame for a recall.
"It was a really difficult start to the season for Aiden because he was carrying a bit of a problem in his back and that stopped him in pre-season," said the Spaniard. "When you get players like Aaron Lennon, Gerard Deulofeu and Kevin Mirallas getting a head start, it's going to be difficult.
"The game against Barnsley didn't work out in the way that maybe he expected and then he's gone through a couple of niggles which stopped him from being in squads so it's been a little bit of an inconsistent period for Aiden.
"In the last two weeks, he's been working more like himself and I think we're going to see the best of Aiden in the next two or three weeks. I'm just hoping he can keep himself fit and keep pushing because we've got such a strong squad and players in his position so it's important he keeps a consistency in his work."
With Everton in fine form, Martinez will use the upcoming Christmas period to assess the strength of the squad heading into the window and says that fringe players like McGeady and Gibson have to capitalise on this period to emphasise their value to their employers - even if next summer's tournament might also be in the back of their minds.
"The players that are coming back from international (duty) have a got a real focus now, and the next international break in March," he said. "In January, we'll make sure that we're as strong as we can be for the second half of the season. At the moment, it's very early to speak about individuals because the next three or four weeks are going to be very important to see how the squad shapes up.
"Sometimes an injury, sometimes anything that happens internally can give you an opportunity, and for Aiden - it's not like he's a young man (he turns 30 in April) - he's someone whose qualities are clear and if he could have a couple of good performances then his situation could change very quickly.
"I don't think you want players that are quite happy to come in and train. Every player wants to come in and be important and be a part of a winning team.
"Competition for places is a reason why we've been so good in our performances; the tempo comes from the tempo we have in training. Everybody knows they have a role and we're not expecting (fringe) players to be happy with that situation."