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Injuries spin us off our axis; Martinez FEARS FOR MIDFIELD DUO.

EVERTON fear being without their midfield axis for tonight's Capital One Cup quarter-final against Middlesbrough.

Gareth Barry has been struggling to walk because of a shin injury and James McCarthy is a major doubt with a hip problem.

Both picked up the injuries in Saturday's 3-3 draw with Bournemouth and will be assessed when they report for training at Finch Farm this afternoon.

McCarthy had to be replaced with 22 minutes remaining at the weekend but Barry played the full 90 minutes at the Vitality Stadium.

However the 34-year-old, the Blues' stand-in captain in Phil Jagielka's absence, is also battling to be fit.

Everton face Middlesbrough tonight but then don't play again until Monday evening, when Crystal Palace are the visitors to Goodison.

Roberto Martinez insists he will not select Barry unless "100%" fit but says the veteran midfielder will give himself every chance of being available.

"He needs to be 100% but you are talking about an experienced player who knows his body inside and out," Martinez said.

"It has been good to see the reaction from Saturday until now.

"Yesterday, he was quite sore and the reaction in 48 hours is huge so we need to make sure he is 100% otherwise it would be very unfair on him and the team.

"But with Gareth I know, for a fact, we can get the right decision because he knows his body and he understands it really well.

"But he is vital for our team and its important to see if we can get him fit."

Barry's injury came as a result of a foul committed by Bournemouth's Joshua King in the first half on Saturday. The former Manchester City man fought through the pain barrier to finish Saturday's game but tissue around his shin has since become inflamed and means he had difficulty walking on Sunday.

"Gareth and James are very intelligent footballers and they compliment each other," Martinez added.

"One plays with the bravery and energy of youth and the other is the cool head who has the understanding and know-how.

"They are team players who allow the team to achieve our aims and be very flexible. Clearly they have been a big part of everything good in our performances this season."

Everton were still 2-0 in front when McCarthy went off and Martinez says it was no coincidence they were pegged back in his absence.

"It was a real miss when James came off and we don't want him to be a long-term absentee," he added.

CAPTION(S):

James McCarthy takes on former Blue Dan Gosling at Bournemouth on Saturday and (inset) Gareth Barry TONY MCARDLE/EC/GETTY

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 1, 2015
Words:442
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