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Premier League

  • 22 March 2014
  • • 15:00
  • • Goodison Park, Liverpool
  • Referee: M. Oliver
  • • Attendance: 36260

Everton - Swansea City Preview: Monk hopeful of Michu return

Everton - Swansea City Preview: Monk hopeful of Michu return

The Spain international has struggled with an ankle injury this season, but the forward was on the substitute's bench for the 2-1 defeat to West Brom last weekend

Swansea City forward Michu could make his first Premier League start in over three months at Everton on Saturday.

The Spaniard, who found the net 18 times in the league last term, has been sidelined with an ankle injury since mid-December, but came off the bench as Garry Monk's men suffered a disappointing 2-1 home defeat to West Brom last weekend.

80/1 Michu is 80/1 with Paddy Power to score first but Everton win 2-1
That result left Swansea without a win in seven matches in all competitions and head coach Monk's only victory in charge remains his opening-game triumph over rivals Cardiff City.

Monk will need to break new ground if Swansea are to record a much-needed win, as the Welsh club have never beaten Everton.

Michu would be one of a number of crucial returnees in the Swansea XI, with Jonjo Shelvey [hamstring] and Nathan Dyer [foot] also back in contention for a start, but Monk conceded that he would have a tough decision to make about whether to play the 27-year-old striker.

"We have to be careful throwing Michu straight back in," he said. "Every player will say 'I'm ready' but he's not had a lot of game time and it's a case of building him up.

"It's unfair to put too much pressure on him. We haven't got too much time but it's important we don't rush him either, we can't afford for him injured to be again."

Seamus Coleman netted a last-gasp winner to sink Swansea's foes Cardiff at Goodison Park last weekend, but speculation surrounding the Irishman's future will have come as an unwanted distraction for Roberto Martinez's Europe-chasing charges.

Everton are two points adrift of fifth-placed Tottenham with two games in hand, making a Europa League berth for next season look likely, and have lost just once at home in the past 15 months in the Premier League.

The Merseysiders have taken the spoils in both previous meetings between the sides this season, claiming a 2-1 win at Swansea in the league before triumphing 3-1 on home soil in the FA Cup fifth round.

Monk replaced Martinez as Swansea captain in 2006, before serving as skipper under the Spaniard during his time in charge at the Liberty, and Martinez is confident that his former club are in no danger of being relegated to the Championship.

"I'll always have special affection and special memories and I want Swansea to do really really well," he said. "They'll be fine at the end of the season, the club's philosophy will give them great success.

"I've been very impressed with Garry Monk, it would be a big mistake to try and assess his time just by the results."

Phil Jagielka [hamstring] faces a late fitness test ahead, while Steven Pienaar will miss out with a knee problem. In addition, Martinez believes Lacina Traore [hamstring] will play again before the end of the season.

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