Leicester City’s Chris Wood nets late equaliser against Everton

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The new season is only one game old but the problems are already mounting for Roberto Martínez.

With the Everton manager hoping to go one better than last year and break into the promised land of the Premier League’s top four, the news that Ross Barkley’s knee injury could keep the England midfielder out of action for several months was about as welcome as Chris Wood’s equaliser four minutes from time which earned Leicester a point on their return to the top flight after a decade’s absence.

Barkley will have further scans on the medial knee ligament injury he picked up in training and despite a brilliant finish from his replacement in the No10 role, Steven Naismith, Martínez will be praying the prognosis on his young star is not as bad as feared.

“The problem is with his medial ligament in his knee and we don’t know how bad it is,” the Spaniard said. “It could be between seven weeks or four or five months. But however long he is out for, we need to make sure we react as a team. Of course, we’re going to miss him a lot. He was looking so sharp in pre-season and we were so unlucky to lose him to an innocuous challenge in training. Now he’s going to be out for a long, long time.”

All the talk before this match was about the full debuts of two new strikers costing a total of £36m, although it was Leonardo Ulloa, Leicester’s £8m signing from Brighton, who found his way on to the scoresheet when he equalised within two minutes of Aiden McGeady’s spectacular opener, before Naismith restored the lead just before half-time.

Martínez was full of praise for £28m Romelu Lukaku as the Belgian striker made his full debut having spent last season on loan from Chelsea, although the 21-year-old looks well short of match practice after featuring in his country’s run to the quarter-finals in Brazil.

Despite the arrival of the Argentinian Ulloa also for a club record fee, it was Leicester’s Thai owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, whose face adorned the matchday programme on their return to the top flight. He has stated in the past his target to see Leicester compete with the top clubs in the country within five years, although for now it seems he will be content with mere survival given the length of time it has taken them to escape the Championship.

On paper, Nigel Pearson’s side looks like it lacks the required experience to survive at this level yet a spirited comeback in the second half that culminated in Wood’s smartly taken finish showed that they will have half a chance. “It’s nice to get something out of the game having gone behind twice,” Pearson said. “There was an element of misfortune from our point of view about both but it would have been easy to think things weren’t going our way so I’m really pleased with the way we responded. We’ll need to improve in certain areas but the biggest message from today is that even when we have injuries we are capable of getting a result against quality sides.”

For Martínez, it was definitely a case of two points dropped. Even with a strong bench featuring new signings Muhamed Besic and Christian Atsu which should help ease the loss of Barkley, the manager accepted that he could have done more to secure the three points.

“We should have won but it is only us to blame,” he said. “We controlled the environment of playing a newly promoted side well and went ahead but we should have gone for the third goal rather than just trying to hold on. We didn’t show the concentration levels that are needed. It’s disappointing to concede a goal so late.”

Wood could easily have found himself back in the Championship without having kicked a ball in anger but Wolves had a bid for him rejected. However, Pearson insisted he is going nowhere and, on the evidence of his cool finish past Tim Howard, you can see why. “He’s staying. I’ve spoken to Chris on a couple of occasions this week and he is happy to stay,” said the manager.

“It can be unsettling for any individual to be involved in speculation about his future but I’m very pleased he was able to play his part in securing our first Premier League point of the season.”

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