Everton v Liverpool: Roberto Martinez excited by 'special' derby

Martinez relishing 'unique' derby

Roberto Martinez said the Merseyside derby is "as big as a football game can be" as he looked ahead to his first meeting with Liverpool as Everton boss.

The Toffees have won five of their first 11 Premier League games under former Wigan manager Martinez, 40, to sit just three points adrift of their city rivals in the table.

Liverpool, who are second, visit sixth-placed Everton on Saturday.

"I have always been intrigued by this fixture - it's special," Martinez said.

"I realised after five minutes at the club how much this fixture means to the fans. It's the feeling of being a blue or red within the same family, within the city, and that develops a real competitive edge of how you follow your football club."

The past two league games between the sides finished in draws - 0-0 at Anfield in May and 2-2 at Goodison in October 2012. Prior to that, a Steven Gerrard hat-trick gave the Reds a 3-0 victory at Anfield in March 2012.

Martinez added: "I think the important aspect is just to make sure we are ourselves in the game, that we don't get affected by the occasion."

Meanwhile, the Spaniard has told midfielder Ross Barkley to concentrate on his club form rather than the prospect of a World Cup trip to Brazil next summer.

Barkley appeared as a substitute in England's friendly defeats by Chile and Germany having made his international debut against Moldova in September.

But Martinez wants the 19-year-old to focus on maintaining his impressive start to the season with Everton.

"I don't think it is the time to consider [the World Cup] - the squad is going to be announced in June," Martinez said.

"In football, a week is an eternity so for a few months it is going to be a waste of time thinking about what can happen in the future. In football you need to concentrate on the day-to-day work and that's where Ross is.

"All he needs to do now is concentrate on his club role and make sure he is ready to help the team and enjoy his season and develop and grow."

Barkley's Everton team-mates Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines both look likely to be part of England's World Cup squad, barring injuries.