Martinez plays down links to United duo
LIVERPOOL -- Roberto Martinez has played down reports that Everton are planning a summer move for Manchester United pair Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck.
England international Welbeck, 23, has reportedly indicated that he is ready to leave Old Trafford this summer after becoming frustrated at a lack of central striking opportunities, with David Moyes stating he wanted to keep the player at the club before the manager's sacking on Tuesday.
The United striker has been linked with a move to Goodison Park as a potential replacement for on-loan Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku, who is reported to be interesting Tottenham.
Midfielder Cleverley, 24, spent the 2010-11 season on loan at Wigan Athletic, where Martinez was manager at the time.
Everton’s manager has made clear that he wants to keep Lukaku, and said this week that some kind of deal -- either temporary or permanent -- to retain on-loan Monaco striker Lacina Traore for next season was also a possibility.
But asked about the likelihood of signing Cleverley or Welbeck, Martinez said that he would prefer to concentrate on Everton’s push for Champions League football.
"Well, the crazy rumours are starting," he told his prematch news conference. "We've got three games to go. It's an exciting end to the season, and we're talking about possible targets.
"There's nothing to mention. What there is to mention is that we'll use the window to try to be stronger in terms of the squad, and we'll look at all the players available and the possibilities that we need.
"We've got three outstanding football events in front of us. We've been working really hard for over 10 months to be in this position, and the only thing that matters is Southampton."
Everton travel to Southampton on Saturday lying fifth in the Premier League, a point behind fourth-placed Arsenal with three games to go.
Centre-back Sylvain Distin will be absent with a hamstring injury, while forward Kevin Mirallas is out of the final three games with a groin muscle tear sustained against Manchester United last Sunday.
Captain Phil Jagielka continues to recover from a hamstring problem, and is aiming to return for the match against Manchester City on May 3.
Midfielder Darron Gibson, though, is back in full training as he steps up his recovery from cruciate knee ligament damage sustained in October.
Martinez said: "Darron Gibson joined the group this week as well, and is progressing really well. But it's a bit too early to tell if he’s going to be involved or not."