Martinez to play Distin against Lille in Europa League
Everton ideally need a win against Lille at Goodison Park to remain top of Europa League Group H, and further increase their chances of qualifying, currently odds-on at 8/13 to do so with Coral.
After a draw in France in the corresponding fixture, at home the Toffees may fare better, following a 4-1 win over Wolfsburg at Goodison Park. Since then, Roberto Martinez’s men haven’t been hosts in Europe, and will take confidence from that victory over the Germans.
Experienced centre back Sylvain Distin may be recalled to the defence after Antolin Alcaraz was ruled out for three months with a dislocated shoulder. With John Stones also injured until Christmas, Phil Jagielka remains the only fit centre half along with Frenchman Distin.
“He had a period of not being at his best,” Martinez said of his player.
The Spaniard also went onto say that Distin can handle the expectation for the match: “Sylvain is a very important player for us, and we all know what he can bring to the side – I was really happy with his performance at Lille,” he added.
“But he is not someone I want to use on the bench at the age of 36. If he is not going to start then he is not going to be on the bench,” clarified Martinez after the defender, 12/1 to net anytime, didn’t make the bench against Swansea City.
“I don’t think that Sylvain at his age would benefit from getting changed, warming up and coming on. He is still a really important player though.”
Everton are, however, odds-on favourites at 4/5 to beat Lille, and they have a clutch of players on one goal each, including Leighton Baines, Seamus Coleman, Samuel Eto’o and Kevin Mirallas, which leaves joint-leading marksmen across all competitions with four goals, Romelu Lukaku and Steven Naismith, with a great chance to make their mark on the tournament.
The Belgian is a 7/2 chance to open the scoring and 4/1 to strike two or more, while Eto’o, also on four goals, has the same odds of Lukaku (7/2) to break the deadlock. Naismith, meanwhile, is offered at a 5/1 price.
In attendance could well be Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, who may take an opportunity to check on the progress of loan striker Divock Origi, who the Reds bought from Lille in the summer, though lent the 19-year-old back for a season.
Origi has a 25 per cent hit rate in front of goal in all competitions so far this term, scoring four in 16 matches, and is 6/4 to score anytime against his parent clubs’ fierce rivals. Also for the visitors, centre back Simon Kjaer has proven himself, on occasion, to be a threat from set-pieces and is 16/1 find the net anytime.
However, the last time the Toffees won at home in Europe, Baines and Coleman were first class, both of them getting on the scoresheet. The former is 7/2 to net anytime, while the right back is 7/1 in the same market.