Sam Allardyce says Everton players have no excuses following mid-season trip to Dubai

Sam Allardyce says 'everyone benefited' from Everton's mid-season trip to Dubai, and that his players no longer have any excuses

Sam Allardyce says his players have no excuses not to perform for the rest of the campaign following their mid-season trip to Dubai.

Allardyce took his players away for some warm-weather training as they had a two-week break between matches because of their early exit from the FA Cup.

The Everton boss praised the training facilities in Dubai and said: “I think everybody benefitted. We can hopefully reap the benefits between now and the end of the season.

“Players have no excuse anymore for not getting out there and performing. Performances have been pretty good since I arrived here.

“Who knows where we can finish now, rather than fighting against relegation.”

Allardyce confirmed left-back Leighton Baines has returned to training and could feature against Watford on Saturday, although he does not know how long new loan signing Eliaquim Mangala will be sidelined for.

However, the 63-year-old suggested it may be tough for the fringe players in his squad to force their way back into the first-team.

He said: “After Christmas and New Year you have to rotate your squad. Now I would prefer the team only gets changed by injuries or suspensions. The rest of the lads have to be patient.”

Allardyce also sought to play down any suggestions of tension between Everton and Watford ahead of their weekend clash.

Everton tried to appoint former Watford manager Marco Silva when he was still at Vicarage Road. Watford would not let him go, but then sacked Silva a few months later, with the Hornets citing Everton’s approach as a factor in their decision.

But Allardyce said: “Things have moved on from there. What went on is water under the bridge.

“Everybody in football needs to look forward more.”