Everton boss Roberto Martinez plans to “regenerate” Gareth Barry during the midfielder’s three-week break because of suspension.
Martinez admits he knew Everton would miss Barry’s presence against Arsenal this weekend, but even he was surprised by just how influential the 35-year-old has been this season.
Barry’s red card in the FA Cup victory over Chelsea last weekend means he will miss both the Gunners’ visit to Goodison Park on Saturday lunchtime and the trip to Manchester United after the international break because it was the second time he was ordered off this season.
Martinez has started Barry in each league fixture so far and, in his absence, his Everton colleagues may find their stamina tested against Arsene Wenger’s side.
Only Bournemouth’s Andrew Surman has covered more distance in the top flight than Barry and Martinez admitted such an achievement was impressive given his player’s age.
“It’s a very interesting stat,” he said. “I don’t think many people, when you watch Gareth play, would come up with that stat.
“Gareth covers the ground, not just the amount of running that he does, it’s how clever he is with his tactical position and the way he covers other players and reads the game. At the age of 35, to be able to have the physicality to do that is impressive.
“Of course we are going to miss him. We’ve only got two players who have been ever-present in the Premier League and he is one of those.
“But, in the same way, with an international break in the middle, we are going to use it to regenerate him and give him a proper break to make sure he’s as strong as he can be for the final part of the campaign. We’re going to get the rewards of that.”