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European football essential for Everton: Roberto Martinez

Updated: Thursday, 13 Mar 2014 17:00 | Comments

Everton will need goals from Romelu Lukaku if they are to qualify for Europe
Everton will need goals from Romelu Lukaku if they are to qualify for Europe

Everton must continue to fight to qualify for European football next season as it is vital for the growth of the club, according to manager Roberto Martinez.

With 11 Premier League games left this season Everton are seventh in the table, nine points adrift of the top four and Champions League qualification but still in contention for a place in Europe's elite club competition

Martinez, in his first season at the club, believes his team need to face Europe's top sides if they are to continue the progress they have made since his arrival.

"Getting into Europe is a big objective and something that would allow us to grow as a football club," Martinez told reporters ahead of the visit of relegation strugglers Cardiff City on Saturday.

"Qualifying for Europe for us would be a massive step forward because it would bring massive football occasions that I do feel we need to be able to develop into the type of team we want to be."

The Spaniard insisted that if his side missed out on the Champions League he would happily lead them into the Europa League, a competition often regarded as a hindrance by fellow English clubs.

"We have 48 points and that is a good return," Martinez said.

"Can we get top four? Mathematically, we can. You look at the points tally you might need to get in those positions and that is still achievable.

"Then after that you've got the Europa League qualification which is another important aim to fight for.

"It would be easy for us to say that we don't want to qualify for Europe and just let the season cruise through. That's not the case at all."

Victory over Cardiff would lift Everton above Manchester United into sixth place before the champions host Liverpool on Sunday.

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