Everton V Watford at Goodison Park : Match Preview

11 May 2017

Ronald Koeman raises doubts over Ross Barkley's future at Everton

Everton boss Ronald Koeman admits he has doubts over whether Ross Barkley will commit his future to the club.

The England midfielder has just over a year left on his current deal and several months ago Koeman set a deadline of the end of the season for the 23-year-old to re-sign or be sold.

Koeman has reiterated the club needs to have an answer by next weekend - when Everton finish their Premier League campaign at Arsenal.

However, the Dutchman is by no means confident there will be a successful outcome and has already started looking at replacements in offensive positions.

"It is still one week. Time for him to decide," said Koeman ahead of Friday's visit of Watford.

"The board has been working a long time to sign Ross for him to stay for a longer period but it is up to the player.

"But we don't wait till August. Next weekend we need an answer.

"If we go on holiday we need to know. Either he accepts the contract or we sell the player.

"But if you need so much time then you have doubts.

"I like to work with players who like to stay. We are already trying to get players in for next season in the front positions.

"It is up to the player and he needs to make a decision."

Barkley is set to feature against Watford on Friday, while fellow midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin is fit for Everton's final home match of the season having missed the last two games with a thigh problem.

Goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg has a groin injury so Joel Robles will be recalled while midfielder Muhamed Besic features in the squad for the first time this season after a serious knee injury.

On-loan Everton midfielder Tom Cleverley will be unable to play for the visitors.

Watford manager Walter Mazzarri admits the former Manchester United man will be missed, but is confident his squad have enough strength in depth to get the job done.

Cleverley returned for what was his second loan spell with the Hornets in January, and following some impressive displays, it is a move which is set to be made permanent in the summer.

Swiss international Valon Behrami is expected to be drafted into the team alongside Abdoulaye Doucoure.

"He (Cleverley) has been a very good player and we will miss him tomorrow, but the positive is he will be fresh against Chelsea (next week)," Mazzarri said at a press conference.

Mazzarri hopes the enforced changes will not upset the balance of the side as the Italian looks to avoid a fourth straight defeat.

"There is no competition in the case of Behrami and Doucoure as they are two players that can play together, they have different characteristics," added the Watford manager.

Mazzarri has guided Watford to 40 points, which is likely to be enough to retain top-flight status again.

The former Napoli and Inter boss, though, continues to see his position come under the spotlight amid reports of an unsettled dressing room.

Mazzarri is determined the campaign, which has been plagued by injury problems, will not just fade out.

Following the trip to Merseyside, Watford will prepare for away games at leaders Chelsea, who could be champions by the time they play on May 15, and then top-four hopefuls Manchester City on the final day.

"I hope not to lose these (next three games) first of all," said the Watford boss, who replaced Quique Sanchez Flores in the summer for a first campaign in English football.

"It is normal in the Premier League to have these moments - West Ham lost five in a row, West Bromwich Albion lost four.

"Of course, I hope for it to not happen and I don't like it.

"But people tend to forget that we missed many starting players during the season.

"When we had a complete squad, we reached seventh in the Premier League and we were 10th for the majority with a fully-fit side."

"We reached 40 points with six games left, and now we will see how well we finish."