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May 11, 2014

Martinez rests Toffees duo for England

Everton manager Roberto Martinez rested Ross Barkley and John Stones against Hull to protect them for international duty this summer, although he does not know if it will be with England's senior or U21 side.

Romelu Lukaku celebrates after scoring Everton's second at Hull.
Romelu Lukaku celebrates after scoring Everton's second at Hull.

The pair were absent from the Toffees squad as James McCarthy and Romelu Lukaku's goals secured a season-ending 2-0 win at the KC Stadium, with Martinez explaining he was keen to keep them injury-free.

Barkley is fancied by many to be part of Roy Hodgson's 23-man World Cup squad on Monday, with Stones an outside bet to feature, but both players remain eligible for Gareth Southgate's age-group side should they be overlooked.

Whether they will be heading to Brazil or the Toulon Tournament this summer, at least Martinez has ensured they will do so at the peak of their powers.

"There were three players I had to protect today, Ross and John were two, and Antolin Alcaraz was the third,'' he said. "[Barkley and Stones] will be busy. There is always the opportunity of representing the senior side but not always is there the U-21s and the Toulon Tournament.

"In one way or the other they are going to be busy and that is one of the reasons we had to look after them, to make sure they didn't go into the summer with the risk of an injury.

"You get so many stats these days, so much information on how the body is recovering and sometimes you get a clear indication of a body having a bit of risk of injury; today I wasn't going to take a risk with any of these players.''

Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka are certainties in the squad, but Martinez declined to make an 11th-hour rallying cry for Barkley and Stones to join them.

"Any manager in the Premier League, they are going to be biased and say 'my players deserve to go with the national team,' but I'm not going down that route,'' he said.

"I trust Roy Hodgson and his vision. I am a big admirer of his experience and whatever he is going to do is behind a plan. Whatever the national team decides we are happy to help and very, very proud of all the players representing their country.''

The Tigers were once again toothless as they slipped to a sixth defeat in their last eight matches.

That run leaves them 16th in the final league table, several places lower than where they have been for much of the season, but still the club's highest-ever top-flight finish.

Tigers boss Steve Bruce has cited next weekend's FA Cup final appearance against Arsenal as a distraction in recent weeks and returned to the theme once more as he explained another tepid showing.

"It looks as if we've been enjoying the FA Cup for too long in my opinion and it's been difficult since we won the semifinal at Wembley to keep everyone's attention on the Premier League,'' he said.

"If we're honest we've been safe for weeks and we've never been in real relegation trouble but it has been very difficult for the last month or so because everyone has been talking about the FA Cup. My biggest disappointment is the way we've finished...we've limped along and some of the performances have not been us.''

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