Coleman likely to face Crystal Palace, confirms Everton boss Martinez

LIVERPOOL -- Everton full-back Seamus Coleman is on course to recover from a blow to the head in time to face Crystal Palace on Sunday, according to manager Roberto Martinez.

The Republic of Ireland international suffered the knock during Thursday's 4-1 victory over Wolfsburg at Goodison Park in the Europa League, in which he scored the Toffees' second goal.

Martinez will take a check on Coleman's fitness before making a final decision on whether to play him, but is optimistic.

The Everton boss also indicated that centre-back Sylvain Distin could return after missing two games with a dead leg.

"Everybody is fine. We've no knocks," Martinez told his pregame news conference on Friday. "There's only Seamus Coleman, who had that knock on his head and is in for observation at the moment. But it's nothing to be too worried about."

The manager is looking to Coleman and fellow full-back Leighton Baines to continue to provide the attacking threat that helped to see off Wolfsburg in their Group H opener.

Both players scored as the German side were well beaten, and Martinez said: "If you look at the record of Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines in the way they work for the team, and then what they bring in the final third, it's quite impressive."

Martinez is wary of a Palace side who went a long way to ruining Everton's Champions League push by winning 3-2 at Goodison Park last April.

The Eagles have changed managers since then, with Tony Pulis resigning and Neil Warnock returning to the club for a second spell.

Martinez said: "I don't think Crystal Palace are in a transition period at all. Neil Warnock has phenomenal experience within the game and he knows Crystal Palace inside out.

"The group are very clear as to what they're good at. They were phenomenal over the second half of the last campaign."

Darron Gibson is likely to be part of Everton's squad on Sunday, having come on as a substitute against Wolfsburg to make his first club appearance in more than 11 months.

The midfielder has finally regained full fitness after suffering cruciate knee ligament damage while playing for the Republic of Ireland in a World Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan on Oct. 15 last year.

Martinez thinks Gibson can be an inspiration to striker Arouna Kone and full-back Bryan Oviedo, who are also nearing returns from long-term injuries.

Kone has been out with a knee problem since last October, while Oviedo suffered a broken leg in January.

Martinez said: "I think that's the worst part of being a professional. Darron's been away from a football pitch injured for 11 months.

"The last time he played in an Everton game officially was away at Manchester City last October. That's an incredible period.

"But he's worked extremely hard. It was really pleasing, the way he was involved in setting up Samuel Eto'o to assist the fourth goal for Kevin Mirallas.

"So straight away, he had a really good impact, and I just hope that now he can slowly fight for his place and set a path for Arouna Kone and Bryan Oviedo, two other long-term absentees who are getting very, very close to being fully fit and ready to help the team."

Martinez also had praise for goalkeeper Tim Howard, who made a string of saves to keep Wolfsburg out for most of the game, only to be beaten by a late Ricardo Rodriguez free-kick.

The manager added: "Tim Howard got a lot of credit in the World Cup for his performance against Belgium, but for Everton fans, it's just declaring the obvious.

"I've seen Tim Howard performing at that level for 13 months now. Yesterday, Wolfsburg had a lot of long-range shots and Tim Howard is always focused. The number of saves he made just shows that he's a very reliable keeper enjoying a good moment of form.

"It was very pleasing to see him showing that level of form. He didn't deserve not to keep a clean sheet. That was something I was really annoyed about, that we lost that clean sheet with the last kick of the game."