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Published: 09:00 | 5/3/16

Martinez defends McCarthy tackle

Everton manager Roberto Martinez has played down any ongoing tension with West Ham following James McCarthy's tackle on Dimitri Payet in November.

The French playmaker suffered an ankle injury following the Ireland midfielder's rash tackle at Upton Park, one that prompted a furious response from Hammers' manager Slaven Bilic, who described the challenge as "nasty" and one that "shouldn't have been allowed".

Payet, who joined West Ham from Marseille last summer in a £10.7m move, was subsequently sidelined until January, but Martinez insists there is no bad blood between the players or the two teams.

"We've moved on from that," Martinez said.

"It is great to see Dmitri Payet back fit and playing, you don't want to see players out injured.

"But in the same way, James is an honest footballer, it was nothing malicious and those incidents happen, it happened to us with Tom Cleverley and Eric Dier at Spurs.

This is the nature of this league, it is a committed league and every ball is a challenge and everyone will fight for the ball but in an honest manner and that is the way I saw it.

"That [Bilic's] reaction was maybe down to the frustration of losing an important player, I think, deep down, everyone knew it was an honest challenge to get the ball."

The Spaniard also says he considered signing Payet last summer, and even flew to the South of France to watch him play, but decided instead to place his trust in Ross Barkley.

"I always felt that Ross would be our number 10 and he needed that space – definitely," he said.

"Ross has matured this season, no doubt. He has progressed and he needed that time to show what he can become."

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