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 By Mike Whalley

Martinez wants loan rules changed

LIVERPOOL -- Roberto Martinez has called for a change in the Premier League’s loan rules, arguing it is wrong that Gareth Barry cannot play for Everton against Manchester City on Saturday.

Roberto Martinez has proved his doubters wrong since swapping relegated Wigan for high-flying Everton.
Roberto Martinez feels Gareth Barry should be allowed to play against Manchester City this weekend.

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Barry, 33, on a season’s loan from City, must sit out the match at Goodison Park as the league will not allow a player to face his parent club. Romelu Lukaku was unable to play in either of Everton’s matches against Chelsea this season for the same reason.

The rules are not as strict in the Football League, where a team can give permission for a loaned-out player to feature against them. And loanees can also face their parent clubs in European competition, with Thibaut Courtois cleared to play in the Atletico Madrid side who beat Chelsea on Wednesday to reach the Champions League final.

Toffees manager Martinez believes that there should be more consistency, saying: “We shouldn’t have two different sets of rules in different competitions. I think the domestic laws should be the same as the European laws.

“In my eyes, when you reach an agreement to allow a player to go -- for a loan period or on a permanent transfer -- he should be allowed to play. I don’t see it as a healthy way to treat a loan player in not allowing them to play against a parent club. If you make a decision to allow a player to go, it’s because for that season, for whatever reason, everyone is happy to see the player at another club.

“I think the fairest way is to see what we’ve seen in the European competitions, and see a player fully focused on the team that they are playing for. And then at the end of the season, it will be a matter of reassessing the situation.”

Barry is out of contract at City in the summer, and Martinez -- who was prepared to sign him permanently in January as part of an unsuccessful attempt to bring Jack Rodwell back to the club on loan from City -- will consider a deal in the summer.

He said: “Gareth will be available for the final game of the season and then that will be the moment we’ll sit down and see what we can do for the next chapter in his career.”

Martinez must also consider the futures of striker Apostolos Vellios and right-back Tony Hibbert, whose Everton contracts expire at the end of the season.

Vellios, 22, was recalled early from a loan spell at Championship side Blackpool on Monday after making only two appearances in a month.

The Greece under-21 international has not played for Everton since January 2013, and Martinez has indicated that he is likely to move on in search of regular games.

“It’s been frustrating for him in terms of lack of playing minutes,” he said. “We all felt the move to Blackpool would be a perfect one to try to get some minutes. It hasn’t worked out, and now he’s going to be part of the first team until the end of the season. We’ll wait until the end of the campaign, and then we’ll sit down and assess where he is and what he needs.

“I don’t think it’s good for anyone to be in a team where you don’t get minutes, and we need to be fair in that respect. Tolis’ [Vellios'] view will be important in all of that as well. He’s been at the club for a long time, and we’ll make sure we look after the situation correctly.”

Hibbert, 33, has made only four appearances during a season which has seen him struggle with injuries and been supplanted by Seamus Coleman as first-choice right-back.

Martinez, though, has not ruled out keeping on the club’s longest-serving current player as a squad member.

He said: “We’ve spoken with Tony. He’s had a couple of niggles and a couple of injuries this season, but he’s been phenomenal in his role for the team.

“Sometimes, you think a player can only offer something when they are playing on the pitch. Tony is the sort of player who brings a know-how and an experience as a Blue. He sets standards, and I would love to see Tony with Everton for as long as he can run, really.

“We’ll sit down at the end of the season and we’ll see where we are, but Tony’s been training really well. He’s fully fit and ready to play, and it will be interesting to see if he can get in the team in the next two games.”


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