EVERTON manager Roberto Martinez is confident his young team have the mental fortitude to see off Manchester City to reach the Capital One Cup final.
The Toffees boss has often excused performances - including Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at home to Swansea - on the basis his side still have plenty to learn.
However, there can be no excuses on Wednesday when they head to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City in the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final with a slender 2-1 advantage.
Martinez believes they have the capacity to get the job done and does not feel some of the displays this season, particularly their habit of conceding added-time goals, warrants input from a sports psychologist.
“You want every player to show the mentality of being ready and that the team can rely on that individual and every player has to have that mentality,” he said.
“Disappointments are painful at the moment because results have not been fair in reflecting the efforts and football we have played.
“Psychologically you have to go through experiences in order to create that resilience to create that winning mentality.
“When things are going well they (younger players) will get a lot of attention, but in the same way when results are not going well they have to get used to that scrutiny.
“I never manage in a blame culture, I manage in an aspirational manner.
“There are situations you need that (psychological) support but at the moment I wouldn’t say that is needed in this team.
“Getting a big achievement and reach something quite special could help to that positive outlook in our games.
“It will be an enormous landmark for the club if we can reach the final of the League Cup.
“I don’t think we have anything to lose. Everyone expects Man City to win and to get into the final.”
England defender John Stones has been the latest to be criticised after his error led to Swansea’s opening goal on Sunday.
However, Martinez has no doubts about the centre-back’s enduring quality.
“John is 21 and has played 68 games in the Premier League. I would never judge a player until he plays 100 starts in any league,” he added.
“John is the first one to know when he plays well and plays badly. You have to learn from those situations.
“Some of his performances this season have been magnificent. Is he the finished article? Clearly not because he is 21 and has played only 68 games.
“Whatever the judgement and criticism from outside we accept it but I think John Stones is in the perfect environment to fulfil his potential and become one of the greatest players England has ever seen.”
Stones will have Phil Jagielka back alongside him on Wednesday as Everton’s captain returns after being rested at the weekend but midfielder Muhamed Besic and forward Kevin Mirallas have been ruled out with injury.
Martinez expects Jagielka’s presence to make a difference.
“It would be daft to say that you don’t miss a player like Phil Jagielka,” he added.
“His influence is always there. Phil is a real influence in the dressing room and it is important he is fully refreshed.”