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Barkley in injury blow before Toffees slip to let Foxes snatch point

Top six chances Everton (7/4) have been suffered the blow that midfield starlet Ross Barkley could be out of action for up to five months, after injuring his knee in training, according to his manager Roberto Martinez.

Spaniard Martinez, following his side’s 2-2 draw away to Leicester City, said: “[Barkley] had a scan but it was a bit difficult to determine the extent. With the swelling, we don’t really know how bad the injury is.

“We know it’s a partial tear [to his medial ligament] but that could be anything between seven weeks and I’ve seen injuries like that take four or five months.”

England international Barkley’s absence couldn’t have happened at a worse time, as Everton were preparing for their opening day fixture of the 2014/15 Premier League season with newly-promoted Leicester.

While Martinez’s men looked fairly comfortable throughout the game, they twice let slip their lead, after goals from Scotland-born duo Aiden McGeady and Steven Naismith, with Foxes substitute Chris Wood scoring a late equaliser. Just how will Barkley’s possible long-term absence hinder the Toffees?

“Ross Barkley is a phenomenal footballer and we’re going to miss him, there’s no doubt about it,” the Everton boss continued. “He was so sharp in pre-season, I thought he came back with a different approach.

“He was very unfortunate to [sustain the injury] through an innocuous challenge in training and now he’s going to be out for a long, long time.

“The squad should be big enough to be able to cope with losing a player and be able to perform well, but it’s a disappointing moment when Ross Barkley was going to have a really big start to the season.

“Now it’s coping with the frustration and allowing him to come back when he’s fully fit and ready for whatever’s left in the season.”

In his absence, 20-year-old Barkley, who usually plays in the attacking midfield role for Everton, was replaced by Steven Pienaar for the game at the King Power stadium. Other players who can be used in that role, include Naismith and Leon Osman.

The Toffees are 6/1 to improve on their fifth place finish last term, and be in the top four at the end of the season.