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MANAGER David Moyes says he would never contemplate selling Leon Osman.
The 29-year-old midfielder produced a man-of-the-match performance in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Sunderland, laying on the assist for the first of Jermaine Beckford’s double.
Moyes admits Osman may not be the most effective player in the squad but believes his attitude and commitment to the Blues cannot be bettered.
The Everton manager says Osman, along with Tony Hibbert, are having to adapt to life without assurances of regular first-team action – but consistently respond with top displays when called upon.
Following the departure of Steven Pienaar to Tottenham in the January transfer window, Osman has started three times and is increasingly finding more opportunities to play.
Hibbert has not featured since the FA Cup third round tie at Scunthorpe – one of only seven starts the defender has had this campaign – yet Moyes sees he and Osman as integral members of the Everton squad.
“We’ve never given up on Ossie,” said Moyes, whose side take on Reading in the Cup this evening.
“As long as I’m here Ossie will be here – and Tony Hibbert – as long as they want to be here.
“They know what the club’s about. They know what’s required and they know what I’m about and from that point of view I think they’re really important.
“Ossie would have played any position on Saturday. Hibbo, I know if I put him in he’ll never let me down, he’ll always give me his best.
“I’ve never thought they’ve outlived their usefulness for us. Never. Unless they ever come to me and say they thought that had happened, that won’t come from me because I know I can rely on them.
“They’re not always our best players, but they certainly always do their job and they know the mechanics of the club and they know what’s required.
“They are really good team players.
“They will find times when they’re not in the team – Hibbo’s finding that at the moment – but I would never lose faith in either of them because the two of them are regular.
“I see them training every day and, it’s easy to say, but they look as if they’ve got blue blood and because of that I know exactly what they’re going to give me when they go out on the pitch.
“We always need players who are going to be committed.
“And willing to ruffle a few feathers, and Ossie’s willing to do that.
“Ossie’s one of the senior boys and he will dig a few out if he doesn’t think they’re doing the right job.”
“He is magnificent with the ball at his feet,” added Moyes.
“I actually thought he was as good as anybody on Saturday. I thought Ossie played really well."
MIKEL ARTETA is aiming to build on Saturday’s encouraging display against Sunderland – and take a step closer to erasing the biggest disappointment of his career to date.
Everton’s inspirational Spanish midfielder sat out Everton’s two Wembley appearances in 2009 through injury, and in 2008 missed another opportunity to win a Wembley place when he was suspended for the first leg of the Blues Carling Cup semi-final.
Now he is keen to build on Saturday’s goal-creating performance and help overcome Reading to stand just one tie away from his first appearance.
“I didn’t get the chance to play in the (2009) final because I was injured, so hopefully we can beat Reading and get closer to returning there,” he said.
“I have had a season where it has been tough for me.
“I have been trying hard but some of the things haven’t gone the way I wanted.
“I think for creative players it is even harder than for defenders.
“But I kept working and I am finding my form and I am confident now.”
Everton have secured back-to-back victories only twice this season, but can celebrate their second victory in three days if they overcome Championship side Reading tonight (kick-off 7.30pm).
With Manchester City or Aston Villa awaiting in the quarter-finals, Arteta added: “I think it was a good performance against Sunderland.
“We needed that to build on last Saturday’s game and the confidence we got from that. Hopefully we are back on it now.
“Tuesday is a massive game. Hopefully we can get through and hopefully it is going to be sold out.
“Let’s give the fans something as well.
“It is the only chance now we have got to win something, so let’s beat Reading and that will make a big difference to the season.”
LEICESTER CITY say Everton have not made an approach for the highly-rated Andy King.
Speculation mounted last week that the Goodison Park were monitoring 22-year-old King but manager Sven Goran Eriksson has confirmed no contact has come from Merseyside.
The suggestions were striker Yakubu would be allowed to make his loan move a permanent transfer if King swapped City for the Goodison Park outfit, but Eriksson has played down the talk.
“I have read about Andy King in the newspapers but I guarantee that I have heard nothing of this,” said Eriksson, whose side currently lie in seventh place in the Championship.
“The club has not been contacted because I would have known that as well. Andy’s agent has not spoken to me either.”
LOUIS SAHA plans to fire Everton into the last eight of the FA Cup – after cheating death in a car crash.
Saha, whose career has been hampered by a string of injuries, emerged unscathed after smashing up his Ferrari 458 on Sunday night.
The accident happened just yards from the spot close to Manchester Airport where his former United team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo crashed two years ago.
The French striker is understood to have only walked away without injury because his high-powered car was a left-hand drive and the right side of the vehicle took the impact.
The drama came 48 hours before tonight’s fifth-round tie with Reading at Goodison Park.
But Saha turned up for training yesterday and Toffees boss David Moyes confirmed he will face Reading.
He said: “I have seen him and he’s okay. These cars are tough. Incredibly, he’s got no injuries from it.” Saha hopes to take another step towards sealing a second FA Cup Final appearance with Everton in three seasons.
The 32-year-old, who has netted eight times in his last seven outings, scored in the 2009 Wembley showpiece as the Toffees lost 2-1 to Chelsea.
But with United and Arsenal on a collision course to meet in the quarter-finals, Everton have their eyes on going one better this time.
However, Moyes is not taking Reading for granted. It is three years since the Championship club last graced the top flight, but the Royals’ third-round win over West Brom showed the Merseysiders that they cannot be taken lightly.
Moyes added: “We have worked so hard to get to this stage after knocking out Chelsea in the last round.
“We want to do well and we want to keep progressing, but we can’t be allowed to get ahead of ourselves.
“We’ve got a job to do against Reading and they are going to make it very difficult.”
Louis Saha could feature for Everton in their rearranged FA Cup fifth round tie with Reading at Goodison Park on Tuesday less than 48 hours after writing off his £170,000 Ferrari. The striker emerged unscathed from the crash.
The 32-year-old’s Ferrari 458 Italia left the road and collided with a fence in a tunnel near Manchester Airport at 8.45pm on Sunday. Saha, who was alone in the car, reported for training as normal on Monday morning.
Saha’s crash occurred in the same complex of tunnels where Cristiano Ronaldo wrote off his own £200,000 Ferrari GTB in January 2009.
David Moyes, the Everton manager, may need to call upon the striker with a raft of injuries undermining his preparations for the visit of Brian McDermott’s Championship side.
Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp has confirmed that Jermain Defoe suffered an ankle injury during the club’s warm-weather training camp in Dubai on Monday.
Defoe broke down during a session in Al Ahli’s Rashid Stadium where Spurs were training as part of their five-day break between matches.