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Martinez hopes to let a couple of unpolished gems shine


Everton Manager Roberto Martinez

Everton Manager Roberto Martinez

Everton Manager Roberto Martinez

Roberto Martinez will showcase the latest "diamonds" to step off Everton's production line in tonight's Europa League clash with Krasnodar.

With the Toffees already guaranteed to top Group H and Russians Krasnodar eliminated, Martinez has the rare opportunity to shuffle his pack completely.

He revealed Joel Robles, Christian Atsu, Steven Pienaar, Arouna Kone, Bryan Oviedo, Conor McAleny, Antolin Alcaraz, Tyias Browning and Luke Garbutt will all start along with two unnamed youngsters.

England Under-18 captain Ryan Ledson and fellow 17-year-old Kieran Dowell appear to be the leading contenders, while Martinez is known to also think highly of Liam Walsh, another midfielder.

The Everton boss is keeping the names under wraps to "give them a nice eight hours of sleep" but is excited for the fans to get a glimpse of players who could follow in the footsteps of Wayne Rooney and Ross Barkley.

He said: "It's a game that should be a celebration because with one game to go we're top of the group. Obviously Krasnodar has got no opportunity to get through so for us to experiment a little bit with the line-up is important.

"I don't think it devalues the competition at all and it should be a celebration at Goodison of all our experiences in Europe.

"In the case of Arouna Kone and Bryan Oviedo, it's a phenomenal moment for us to have them back and be able to enjoy their football and to be able to start their season.

"Then we're going to have a couple of youngsters that are really exciting. I don't want to mention the names yet but it's going to be really exciting for us as a club to show another two diamonds of our development system and show the good work that everyone is doing at the club in such a fantastic environment and such a fantastic competition.

"It's a really exciting game that I'm sure every Evertonian will look forward to and feel extremely proud of the individuals we're going to have on the pitch."

For striker Kone, who followed Martinez to Goodison Park from Wigan, it will be a chance to play in the first team for the first time in more than a year after a long-standing knee injury. Oviedo, meanwhile, has started only one match since the broken leg he suffered in January that ruled him out of Costa Rica's World Cup campaign.