The excitement in Australia is building as Everton fans Down Under wait for the arrival of some of the Blues’ biggest stars.
Phil Neville, Mikel Arteta, Phil Jagielka, Louis Saha and Leon Osman will all be on the plane leaving the UK on Thursday and will feature in the three games against Sydney FC, Melbourne Heart and Brisbane Roar.
Australia legend Tim Cahill will also join up with the squad following his World Cup campaign with the Socceroos in South Africa and is likely to appear in the opening two matches of the pre-season tour.
The sternest test is likely to come in the opening game from Hyundai A-League champions Sydney, who will also have a familiar face among their ranks having invited former Aston Villa and Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke to take part in the exhibition match.
Yorke was part of the Sydney FC team that won the inaugural A-League title in 2005 and the forward will face old team-mates Phil Neville and Louis Saha.
“I had a fantastic time with the club and the other lads in the team and, of course, Sydney is a fantastic city,” said Yorke, who spent a season in Australia before joining Sunderland. “It’s a great thrill to play for Sydney again and to have a chance to say farewell to all of Sydney’s fantastic fans and supporters.
“It will be a terrific game against Everton.
“I’ve seen their squad list for the tour. In addition to Aussie favourite Timmy Cahill, it includes my good friend Phil Neville and others such as Louis Saha, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines, who only just missed England selection for this year’s World Cup.”
A-League clubs are currently stepping up their own pre-season preparations ahead of the 2010/11 campaign and Sydney view Everton’s visit as a huge boost to their schedule.
“The pre-season is a very important part of football. We are excited to play against Everton in Sydney,” said coach Vitezslav Lavicka.
“This will help us be ready for the A-League season and will be a good experience as we have many young players.”
Sydney CEO, Edwin Lugt also highlighted Cahill as a big draw for Australian football supporters.
“This is an exciting opportunity for football fans in Sydney to see the A-League champions take on one of the English Premier League’s leading teams and one that is headlined by Australian Tim Cahill,” said Lugt.
“The fixture at ANZ Stadium forms an important part of our pre-season campaign and we expect to continue the success we had last season here against Everton.”
Cahill's early exit from the World Cup means he'll link up with Everton for the tour of his home country and the midfielder can't wait for kick-off.
“It’s a dream for me that my club, Everton, is visiting my country as part of the pre-season preparations for the next Premier League season,” said Cahill.
“It’s massive. It’s non-stop football and it’s great for fans, and great for the A-League too.”
Everton’s other World Cup players will not travel to Australia, however as they take a well earned break.
While Johnny Heitinga is still involved with Holland in South Africa, Yakubu, Joseph Yobo, Steven Pienaar, Tim Howard and Jan Mucha have all seen their respective countries drop out of the tournament and will return to Finch Farm once the Australia tour is over.
Tickets are now on sale for the pre-season tour of Australia – click here to buy now.
Don’t forget, Everton are in pre-season action when they return and face Preston, Norwich and Everton Chile – click here to buy tickets.