Everton boss Roberto Martinez could be without James McCarthy and Tom Cleverley in the New Year after both picked up injuries against Stoke.
The enforced changes capped off a frustrating Bank Holiday for the Toffees, as they succumbed to a 4-3 defeat against Mark Hughes’ side despite coming from behind twice at Goodison Park.
Cleverley managed just 26 minutes before hobbling off, but his replacement McCarthy was also unable to see out the remainder of the match and Martinez is concerned about both of his injured midfielders
Martinez said after the seven-goal bonanza: “To lose Tom Cleverley through injury and to get a reaction, a flare up, from James McCarthy is a real negative.
“It was a blow to lose James so early. We felt we needed an extra energy and you saw that with his impact in with the assist for the first goal (for Romelu Lukaku).
“Tom then felt his Achilles tendon and we will have to assess it. He tried to stay on as long as he could.
“He played the pass for Romelu Lukaku for the second goal but he had to come off. He made a really big impact when he came on and he was playing a massive role.”
The potentially lengthy injuries are setbacks in another testing time for the 11th-placed Toffees. With a last-gasp 1-0 victory against Newcastle the only Premier League win in their last six games, Everton’s next three games sees them take on Tottenham at Goodison Park before respective trips to Manchester City and Chelsea.
Ahead of the tough run of games, Martinez has called on his players to become more robust as a defensive unit when they do take the lead in games.
Martinez added: “There are certain actions we have to defend a lot better and, as a team, we have to get more mature. We have to be wiser in protecting that lead.”