John Stones and Tim Howard are expected to be fit for Saturday’s game against West Bromwich Albion, but Muhamed Besic is set to miss out.

According to the club’s official website, Stones and Howard have been suffering from knee and hamstring problems but have reacted well to treatment and should be available for when the Blues host the Baggies this weekend.

Martinez said:

“Yesterday we had a very productive day in respect [of injuries]. John had a really good feeling after his work and we are hoping that he can join the group this week leading up to the West Brom game.

Tim Howard is very similar. He had a very good session on a one-to-one basis.

We knew that they were problems that could be managed and treated in a short-term and conservative manner. We are very pleased with how their bodies have reacted.

Now it’s about taking it step-by-step, introducing them to the group and seeing how they react. Hopefully they will be available for the West Brom game, if not at the maximum Bournemouth.”

Muhamed Besic has also made positive strides in his recovery from a hamstring injury suffered against Swansea City last month, but the Bosnian won’t be fit for the weekend.

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In the absence of Stones and Howard, Everton have won three straight games without conceding a goal.

Joel Robles has deputised with calmness and vigour, while Phil Jagielka and Ramiro Funes Mori have struck up a solid partnership at the heart of the Everton defence.

Many Evertonians want Roberto Martinez to resist the temptation of bringing back the injured duo due to the the recent upturn in form, and the Catalonian knows he has a big decision to make.

“Joel had to fill in for Tim and has done magnificently well,

I have always said that football makes a decision and we want competition for places. That’s what makes the squad we have so competitive.

We want Tim to be fit, available and raring to go. As a manager, those are the sort of decisions you want to have.”

The Blues could close the gap on fifth place to just three points with a win against Tony Pulis’ men on Saturday, and it will be interesting to see if Howard and Stones are immediately thrust back into the starting line-up.