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EVERTON skipper Phil Neville clocked up his 600th club appearance against Stoke City on Saturday.
But team-mate and defensive colleague Phil Jagielka believes his captain won’t stop there.
And he has tipped Neville to rack up 700 club appearances during his time at Goodison.
Since making his Manchester United debut in the infamous ‘You’ll win nothing with kids’ defeat at Aston Villa in 1995, Neville, 33, has gone on to make 600 club appearances – 386 with United and a further 214 since signing for Everton in 2005.
“It is a great achievement for him to reach 600, said Jagielka.
“He is a fantastic professional and still a very good footballer, long may it continue. Maybe he can reach 700, who knows?
“Phil is a massive player for us, he is our captain and we all look to him.”
EVERTON have still not agreed to take up their option on Azerbaijani wonderkid Araz Abdullayev – despite the 18-year-old speaking this week of his “pride” at joining the Blues.
Everton have had first option on the midfielder – the youngest player to be capped by his country – since July.
But yesterday a spokesman for the the Azeri side, where Abdullayev plays his football, said: “Officials from the English club will visit Baku soon and the contract will be signed here in our capital.”
The midfielder, speaking to Neftchi’s official website, added: “I am proud that I will be an Everton player.
"I’m very grateful to the authorities at Neftchi for all they’ve done for me.
"I will do my best to be a good representative for Azerbaijan and Neftchi in England.
"I hope I can please both Everton and Azerbaijani fans.”
A Blues spokesman, however, said last night: “We still have first refusal but there has been no decision yet on whether to exercise that option.”
Any move to Goodison for Abdullayev would be subject to the player securing a work permit in January, and after their problems with Nigerian international Victor Obinna – now playing for West Ham – no-one at Everton will be taking a move for granted.
TIM HOWARD hopes Yakubu can now embark on a scoring streak after ending his goal drought at the weekend.
Yakubu netted for the first time since April to earn Everton a narrow 1-0 triumph against Stoke City at Goodison on Saturday.
Remarkably, that was also the last time a recognised striker had scored for David Moyes’s side in the Premier League.
Having scored 21 times in his debut season at Goodison in 2007-08, Yakubu suffered a serious Achilles injury the following term and, after making his comeback in August 2009, netted only six times last campaign as he struggled for form and fitness.
However, Howard is confident the Nigeria international’s matchwinner against the Potters can spark a goal glut to go with his continued improved performances for the team.
Š“It’s huge for us,” said the United States goalkeeper.
“It was one of those days we didn’t know where things were going to come from.
“It was scrappy, it was tough.
“That’s the thing with the Yak in front of goal, he’s deadly. If the ball can fall to anybody and get his feet collected it’s Yak, he does brilliantly.
“I hope we can see him going on a run now. He’s been huge for us the last two months. We’ve been kind of riding him a little bit.
“I think he’s shown some good form, he’s shown some brilliant flashes and has been working terribly hard so I hope his rewards will continue to come. I’ve never been around a more clinical finisher in all my life.”
Yakubu himself admitted there was a mixture of delight and relief at ending his lengthy wait for a goal.
“It’s been so, so long since I scored,” said the Nigerian.
“The fans have been really, really good to me.
“They believe in me, even when I’m not scoring. I appreciate that and I dedicate my goal to the fans.
“It was tough. It’s never easy playing Stoke.
“They have massive defenders, and fight for every ball, so it was a big three points.
“As a striker sometimes you have chances, which you have to take. I was there to score it and its been really good for me. It’s given me more confidence and hopefully I’m going to score goals.
“I think my fitness is really good and better than last season.
“Hopefully I can help the lads achieve something this season as a team.”
WHILE Premier League managers rotate their squads to keep players fresh, Everton Ladies will try to conquer Europe this season with exactly the opposite problem.
The Blues go to Denmark tomorrow to face Brondby in the last 16 of the Champions League, not having played a match domestically since May!
The launch of the new FA Women’s Super League next March means that there has been no domestic football since last May.
But coach Mo Marley is refusing to use the huge gap in the fixture list as an excuse.
“It’s actually helped us,” said Marley. “It’s been a total focus on the Champions League; there haven’t been any distractions. You get a good lead-up to every game, two to three weeks solid preparations. You’ve got less concerns about people getting injured.”
Goalkeeper Rachel Brown agrees.
“Domestically, we’ve not played together very much but we’ve still been training regularly and we’ve had a lot of games in international competition this summer,” she said.