Roberto Martinez declares James McCarthy fit for Merseyside derby despite conflicting reports
Everton boss Roberto Martinez expects James McCarthy to be available for Saturday's Merseyside derby - and fully fit for the rest of the season.
It had been reported Toffees midfielder McCarthy was set to miss out on the Barclays Premier League clash with Liverpool at Goodison Park having aggravated in training the hamstring problem that has restricted him to only two appearances since November and none so far in 2015.
But Martinez dismissed such talk on Thursday, saying McCarthy was "fully healed" and on course to play this weekend.
The Spaniard added: "I now expect James to be clear and fully fit for the rest of the season."
When asked about the reports of the 24-year-old Republic of Ireland international having suffered a fresh setback in his rehabilitation, Martinez said: "No, he hasn't.
"He was in hospital on Wednesday having a scan to make sure he is fully recovered and it showed he is perfectly healed.
"Now it is just a matter of adapting him into the match intensity, and I expect James to be available for the squad at the weekend, so it is terrific news in that respect."
Martinez emphasised McCarthy would not need to change his playing style, and said: "What is important is that we help him as much as we can in terms of nutrition, footwear - anything that could have an effect in getting the tissues tired.
"He is a very young man still, but he is a sprinter who plays in midfield and his tissues need to be well looked after.
"You get those sorts of situations where at times you pick up an injury that gives you a little bit of a problem just to get rid of it.
"But I now expect James to be clear and fully fit for the rest of the season.
"I can see that the injury is well behind him now - we had reassurance yesterday and we look forward to seeing him back to his very best and finishing the season really strongly."
Someone else Martinez has reported encouraging news on is Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard, who has been out of action since Boxing Day due to a calf injury.
Howard looks set to be unavailable again this weekend but is nearing a return, with Martinez saying: "The medical advice is to give him another seven days before he is on a football pitch, so we will keep that in mind."
Midfielders Leon Osman (foot) and Steven Pienaar (knee) are not yet recovered from their complaints and defender Tony Hibbert is also sidelined by a minor problem, but it does look like Saturday's game will see some involvement from Aaron Lennon.
Lennon arrived on loan from Tottenham for the rest of the season on transfer deadline day and Martinez says the 27-year-old winger is raring to go.
"He has arrived focused and ready to train and to perform," the manager said.
"It has been great to see the way Aaron has adjusted, because when you sign a player in January, it is very difficult to find someone who is up to speed with the league and their match fitness.
"He is fully fit and ready to make an impact as part of the squad for the weekend."
Martinez has rubbished talk that forward Kevin Mirallas might have joined another club on deadline day but admits there were discussions with two other Premier League sides about defender Sylvain Distin.
"With Kevin, I think it has just been a story with no substance - it was never an issue where he could leave the football club in this window," Martinez said.
"Kevin is enjoying his football, he is happy and from our point of view, that has never been a worry."
On Distin, he added: "There were a couple of conversations with two Premier League clubs, but that is all it was - some dialogue, and nothing progressed from there.
"Sylvain is still in the squad and will be fighting for his place like the rest of the players."