Roberto Martinez open to keeping Traore
Roberto Martinez has indicated that he is open to keeping striker Lacina Traore to help with an Everton European campaign next season.
The Ivory Coast international, 23, has managed only 61 minutes of football for the club during an injury-hit loan spell from Monaco.
Traore, who joined Everton on Jan. 24, made his only appearance for them when he scored in a 3-1 FA Cup fifth-round victory over Swansea on Feb. 16.
Six days later, he suffered a hamstring injury in the warm-up at Stamford Bridge before a Premier League match against Chelsea, and has not figured since.
Manager Martinez does not expect Traore to be fit before the end of the season, when his loan spell expires.
But a point at Southampton on Saturday will guarantee at least a place in next season’s Europa League for Everton.
And although they currently lie fifth, they are only a point behind Arsenal, who occupy England’s fourth and final Champions League spot.
Martinez has acknowledged that he will need options in attack, and stated publicly in January that he wanted to keep Romelu Lukaku beyond the end of his season’s loan from Chelsea, which expires in the summer.
Arouna Kone is expected to be fit for next season, having been absent since October with cruciate knee ligament damage, while Steven Naismith -- who has scored three times in his last five appearances -- will also have a key role to play.
Asked about Traore’s future, Martinez told the Liverpool Echo: "It depends on our European demands.
"If we are competing in Europe then we will need four strikers.
"Steven Naismith and Arouna Kone are two players who are important in our squad.
"We need to make sure we start next season with a strong squad -- and in my eyes, we will be having four strikers in the group.
"Lacina is someone we really believe can bring something different to the team and he is someone we will try to see if we can get an opportunity to sit down and see what is the next chapter."