LONDON (REUTERS) - Everton will be ready to compete in the Europa League next season despite the demands placed on the club by additional fixtures after they sealed a seventh-placed Premier League finish, manager Ronald Koeman has said.
Everton will play 41 games across three domestic competitions this season but can expect a much busier fixture list next year when the European ties are added to the schedule.
Koeman said that his players would be in better shape than at the beginning of this campaign, where eight players sustained injuries in August and September, as they had become accustomed to the manager's training routine.
"The difference is that the team will be better fitness-wise than it was at the start of this season," Koeman told the club's website.
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"The players also know the manager, they know the way we like to train, and the intensity we like to put into our training sessions, and that's different than it was last season.
"I also know the players better than I knew them last year so there are lots of differences in a positive way."
Koeman also said that planning for next season had begun earlier this year as the club looked to accommodate all their players' schedules.
"We planned things two months ago to start on July 3. The players need a holiday (once this season finishes) and some may still be on international duty up to June 13," Koeman said.
"I believe the players need at least three weeks' holiday and maybe I will decide that some players could even come back later than July 3."
Everton host Watford on Friday before ending the season at Arsenal on May 21.