Everton plan new Barkley contract
Everton manager Roberto Martinez has indicated he will look to secure new contracts for Ross Barkley and Sylvain Distin in the New Year.
Midfielder Barkley, who turned 20 last week, has been one of the outstanding performers for the club this season, and has also broken into the England side.
The youth-team graduate’s current deal runs until June 2016, but Everton are keen to negotiate a pay-rise to reflect the progress he has made in recent months.
Asked about a new deal for Barkley, Martinez told a news conference: "As you can imagine, we’re always working behind the scenes to reward youngsters who are doing really well at the club, and Ross is clearly in that category.
"There’s nothing to announce. The moment we’ve got anything to announce, the fans will be the first ones to know.
"But even when you don’t speak about issues, we’re working really hard behind the scenes to make sure that the youngsters get rewarded. Clearly, Ross deserves that."
Martinez also indicated that Distin, who will celebrate his 36th birthday next Monday, will be offered the chance to extend his Everton career.
The French centre-back, who moved to Merseyside from Portsmouth in 2009, is out of contract next June, but is set to get a one-year extension.
Martinez said: "I think Sylvain has been a terrific performer so far this season, and we couldn’t be happier with his role at the football club.
"All these issues are vital for us, and we’re going to look after them straight after this Christmas period, because at the moment, all that matters is to get everyone focused on being ready to help the team -- and Sylvain clearly has been an example of someone who is doing that."
There remains no news, however, on a new deal for Leighton Baines, who will miss Saturday’s Premier League home game against Fulham with the fractured toe he sustained during the 3-3 draw with Liverpool on Nov. 23.
England left-back Baines, who celebrated his 29th birthday on Wednesday, is still wanted by Manchester United, who had three bids to sign him rejected during the summer.
The defender’s deal at Goodison Paark runs until June 2015, and his manager has made clear that there is no rush to extend it.
Martinez has indicated that Baines could be back in time for Everton’s home game against Sunderland on Dec. 26.
He said: "It’s one of those injuries that are so frustrating because Leighton is feeling great. But when you try to do some work, you realise that Leighton still needs time to heal the fracture.
"I don’t think he’ll be available for Saturday, even though I wouldn’t discount it. It would be more likely to be a couple of weeks from now, more realistically."
Centre-back Antolin Alcaraz is continuing to build up his fitness after missing the entire season to date with hernia, groin and hamstring problems.
While he might be in the squad, right-back Tony Hibbert -- who has played only twice so far in 2013 after being plagued with injury troubles -- is out with a knee problem.
Martinez said: "Antolin has been training really well. Tony Hibbert had a little setback and should be back next week.
"It was just his knee. He had a knock in training, and it will probably need just three to four days to allow him to heal. Nothing serious, but he won’t be available for Saturday."