Barkley in line for improved contract. (Reuters)
Everton manager Roberto Martinez has revealed that the club are working hard to reward young star Ross Barkley with a revised contract in time for the New Year.
The highly-rated Barkley is likely to be rewarded alongside consistent performer Sylvain Distin who is looking as though he will be given a short-term extension on his contract.
The 36-year-old centre back is entering the final six months of his contract while the terms of Barkley's four-and-a-half year contract which he signed in December 2011 will be improved, Martinez has suggested.
"You can imagine we are always working behind the scenes to try to reward youngsters who do well at the club, and Ross is clearly that," the Toffees boss told Sky Sports.
"There is nothing to announce but, even when you don't speak about issues, we work hard to make sure that the youngsters get rewarded and Ross clearly deserves that.
"Sylvain has been a terrific performer this season and we couldn't be happier with his role at the club."
In the meantime, Martinez added that England left-back Leighton Baines could be taking to the field for Everton before the New Year following his recovery from a toe injury picked up during the Merseyside derby in November.
"It is one of those injuries which is so frustrating," said the Everton boss. "Leighton is feeling great but, when you start to do some work, you realise you still have a period to heal the fracture and give it some more time.
"I don't think he will be available for Saturday - although I wouldn't discount it - and it will be more realistic for the next couple of weeks.
"This Saturday is a very important game at home (to Fulham) and then you go straight into four games in a 10-day period, which is demanding, and then we are going to be strong in the FA Cup.
"We need as many players as we can. We have lost Darron Gibson and Arouna Kone, and hope we can have everyone else. It will be vital to have Leighton fully fit."
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