Roberto Martinez open to striker move
LIVERPOOL -- Everton manager Roberto Martinez has indicated that he will move for a striker in the next 10 days if Arouna Kone does not recover quickly from injury.
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Martinez did not say if he is exploring a short-term deal for free agent Samuel Eto'o, who was released by Chelsea at the end of last season.
But any move for Eto'o, who has also attracted interest from Liverpool and Ajax, would depend on the fitness of Kone, who has not played since suffering a knee injury last October.
The Ivory Coast international is back in training, but has no date set for a return to first-team action.
Martinez -- whose side host Arsenal in the Premier League on Saturday -- is wary of going into the autumn light on strikers, with Romelu Lukaku likely to shoulder the bulk of centre-forward duties, although Kevin Mirallas can also play the role.
With the transfer window closing on Sept. 1, the manager is aware that he will have to make a decision on a signing soon if Kone continues to be unavailable.
Martinez said: "Of course, that comes into the thinking. But we've got a bit of time, and the next two weeks are vital towards that.
"It's important Arouna is fully fit, it's important he can show what he can do.
"Every Evetonian has been so supportive because they want to see him back on to a football pitch, and we're all desperate to see that happening.
"But it is true that over the next two weeks, we need to take that into consideration, bearing in mind that the transfer window will close."
He added: "When the window is open, you have to try to use it to your advantage. But it's not an obsession, as it could have been earlier in the window when we had to get in the players we wanted to make sure the season strongly.
"Now I feel that we can start the season strongly and then see what the final part of the window brings."
Asked about a move for Eto'o, Martinez said: "There are going to be many links. You know that. There's still a long time to go before the window closes.
"We are focused on how strong we are internally with the players we have."
Martinez will go into the match against Arsenal without England midfielder Ross Barkley, who faces several weeks out of action with medial knee ligament damage sustained in training last Friday.
The manager does not yet have a clear indication as to how long the 20-year-old will be out for, although he is unlikely to be available until October at the earliest.
Martinez said: "It's a medial ligament injury, a partial tear, and that could take a different time to recover depending on the person, depending on how quickly he can heal.
"I'm sure that Ross Barkley will take as little time as possible -- but that could be anything between seven, eight, nine weeks... going all the way to a longer period."
The manager, though, is well stocked for midfielders despite Barkley's absence, having signed Muhamed Besic from Ferencvaros in the summer as well as making Gareth Barry's loan move from Manchester City permanent, and with Darron Gibson on the way back from a long-term knee injury.
James McCarthy, Leon Osman and Steven Naismith also offer options in the central midfield roles, while Aiden McGeady, Christian Atsu, Mirallas and Steven Pienaar are all candidates for the wide roles.
Martinez says he is happy with the overall make-up of his squad ahead of his side's next two matches, against Arsenal and Chelsea; and believes they can be competitive in a division he expects to be tighter than ever.
He said: "I think the league will be a lot more open than people think. There will be very small margins from week to week.
"I see maybe five teams with an equal chance of winning the title, and it's just a case of how the competition develops, and how injuries and suspensions affect teams at key moments. "I do expect this competition to be the tightest that we've ever seen."
But asked if he thought Everton were among those five title contenders, Martinez was coy.
He said: "That goes against my principles of setting aims for the league season in August. It's a 10-month competition.
"Talking about aims in the league now in August, I see that as a foolish conversation."
Right-back Seamus Coleman, who recovered from a hamstring injury to play for the final five minutes of last Saturday's 2-2 draw at Leicester, is in contention to make his 100th Premier League start.
Left-back Bryan Oviedo, out since breaking his leg last January, is back in training but has no confirmed return date.