What The Papers Say - 05 March

by Matthew Gamble

The views on this page are taken from the local and national media and do not necessarily reflect the views of Everton.

DAVID MOYES has dismissed as “a load of rubbish” claims from Marouane Fellaini’s father that Everton FC wrecked the midfielder’s season by ignoring medical advice.

Abdellatif Fellaini blasted the Goodison outfit after his son was ruled out for the rest of the season after suffering an ankle injury against Sunderland last Saturday.

Fellaini initially sustained the damage during the FA Cup fourth round replay win at Chelsea the previous week, with his father claiming Everton were then told the player needed rest.

However, Moyes selected the 23-year-old Belgian against the Wearsiders only to see him aggravate the problem in a challenge with Stephane Sessegnon before being substituted after 42 minutes.

Fellaini will now undergo an operation on Monday.

But a puzzled Moyes has rejected any suggestion Everton were risking the player’s well-being.

“That's completely wrong,” said the Goodison manager. “We would never do that, it’s a load of rubbish.

“We had to hold the boy back from training on the Tuesday and Thursday and he trained Friday.

“His dad’s maybe upset because the boy is going to have another operation on Monday.

“Who would do that? We wouldn’t – of course we wouldn’t.

“We certainly wouldn’t risk Marouane Fellaini, who has arguably been our best player this season.”

Fellaini’s long-term absence means he will miss today’s Premier League visit to Newcastle United as Everton look to bounce back from the miserable FA Cup exit at home to Reading in midweek.

The defeat means the focus is again on the Goodison outfit’s proximity to the relegation zone – five points above the bottom three with 11 games remaining – rather than a possible late push for a European place.

And Moyes said: “We get on with our work, that's the job. In any line of work you come in every day and get on with your work.

“We will try to win the next game, the next game is always the most important and we will try to win that one.

“But it is a big test. I think Newcastle have done well, as have all the promoted teams.”

Victor Anichebe returns to St James’ Park for the first time since it emerged he received a six-figure out-of-court settlement from the Magpies after he sued them over a Kevin Nolan challenge that left him badly injured two years ago.

Anichebe, 22, took Newcastle to court for potential loss of earnings following the Newcastle captain’s two-footed lunge damaged cartilage in his right knee in February 2009.

He has since undergone two operations and has been restricted to just 22 appearances since returning to the first team in January last year after 11 months’ recuperation.

JACK RODWELL knows all too well about how injuries can strike when at precisely the wrong moment to hamper a promising campaign.

So it would have given the Everton youngster little pleasure to be thrust into action last Saturday against Sunderland as a replacement for the limping Marouane Fellaini.

However, one man’s misfortune is another’s opportunity.

And with Fellaini now sidelined for the rest of the season with an ankle complaint, the window has opened for Rodwell to seize his first-team chance in central midfield, starting at Newcastle United this afternoon.

The 19-year-old remains one of the brightest young things in English football having forged a burgeoning reputation since his record-breaking debut in Alkmaar more than three years ago.

But Everton assistant manager Steve Round believes the time has come for Rodwell to start realising that undoubted potential and take his career on to the next level over the remaining 11 games this season.

“He's as good as I've seen, there's no question of his potential,” says Round. “But the whole point of potential is that he hasn't quite reached it yet, we'll see where he is in two, three years’ time.

“The sky is the limit for him, I think he can be a tremendous player for Everton and for the national team in the future.

“He's the one that has got to knuckle down and do it on the field.”

Rodwell began the season with high hopes only to suffer a serious ankle injury of his own in the defeat at Aston Villa in August.

Since his return, the England under-21 international has found it difficult to maintain his form and a first-team place, with the start in Tuesday’s FA Cup defeat to Reading only his 10th of the season.

But Round hopes he is past his injury problems and ready to excel in the Premier League run-in.

“He’s had a few injuries this season but he looks to have come through that now,” he adds.

“It’s up to him to take the mantle on, he’s certainly got the talent and he’s certainly got the physical presence.

“He’s well regarded and well thought of throughout football and you can see that on the international scene.

“But you mustn’t forget he's only 19 coming up to 20 but it's time for him to establish himself.”

Everton lost at home to Newcastle earlier in the campaign and have not won on Tyneside in eight previous Premier League visits under Moyes.

They go into the game on the back of Tuesday’s shocking 1-0 FA Cup home exit at the hands of npower Championship side Reading.

But Moyes, who reaches the ninth anniversary of his appointment at Goodisonlater this month, has bounced back from cup shocks in the past.

“I had to come back from the result against Shrewsbury a few years ago, and I had to come back from the result against Oldham,” he says.

“If you look at the results and performances in the last few years I think you’ll find we tend to do that.

“It's frustrating because you want to be consistent.

“The players will have to play their part as well. They need to get on with it and show what they are about and in the main they have done that.

“The way the league has been this year if you lose one you are looking down and if you win one you are looking up. I hope we are looking up after Saturday night.

“We have shown some good performances in other games and we have to try to get up to that level of performance.”

Everton will be without another influential midfielder at Newcastle with Tim Cahill ruled out for up to three weeks with a foot injury.

Yet Moyes still has much of the squad which lost just two of their final 24 games last season together, and believes they can fire again.

“There are a lot of good players in there and a lot of strong characters,” he adds.

“I have got a lot of trust in them, I believe in them. They are good players and that hasn’t changed.”

DAVID MOYES has poured scorn over claims by Marouane Fellaini’s father that the midfielder was forced to play despite being injured.

The Belgium international was ruled out for the season with an ankle injury after coming off during the Blues 2-0 victory over Sunderland at Goodison Park and will undergo surgery on Monday.

Fellaini’s father, Abdellatif, hit out at Moyes’ decision to field his son, after the player picked up the knock in their FA Cup win at Chelsea the previous week.

The 22-year-old aggravated the injury following a challenge from Sunderland’s Stephane Sessegnon and now, for the second season in succession, has had his campaign ended early due to an ankle problem.

However, Moyes angrily denied any wrongdoing and insists that the club would never risk any player’s wellbeing against doctor’s orders.

He said: “That’s completely wrong. We would never do that, it’s a load of rubbish.

“We had to hold the boy back from training on the Tuesday and Thursday and he trained Friday.

“His dad’s maybe upset because the boy is going to have another operation on Monday.

“Who would do that? We wouldn’t – of course we wouldn’t.

“We certainly wouldn’t risk Marouane Fellaini, who has arguably been our best player this season.”

Moyes, who has no fresh injury problems ahead of today’s away clash against Newcastle United, Fellaini and Tim Cahill aside, believes the Belgian’s absence is an opportunity for other players.

He said: “He was out in midweek and people had their chance to step forward then, so yes.

“We don’t tend to talk much about injuries. We tend to talk about the fit players. We want them to come to the fore and be the important ones, not the people who are out.”

The Scot insists his team have learned the hard way to recover from cup defeat by lower league sides.

“I had to come back from the result against Shrewsbury a few years ago, and I had to come back from the result against Oldham,” he said.

“If you look at the results and performances in the last few years I think you’ll find we tend to do that.

“Winning the next game is the most important thing. Three points would be great for us.

“The way the league has been this year if you lose one you are looking down and if you win one you are looking up. I hope we are looking up after Saturday night.

“We have shown some good performances in other games and we have to try to get up to that level of performance.

“It’s not the time to assess it.

“We will probably do that at the end of the season.

“What we are looking to do now is concentrate on the next game, keep ourselves focused on that.

“At the end of the season we will look to see what we could have done better.

“If we can get on the shirt tails of one or two of the teams above us that would give us a boost.”

NEWCASTLE manager Alan Pardew as told his side to beware of the ‘wounded’ animal that faces them at St James’s Park this afternoon.

David Moyes’ Everton side will still be smarting after crashing out of the FA Cup with the shock 1-01 fifth round defeat to Championship side Everton in midweek.

While Magpies have lost just one of their last nine league games, the Blues have endured mixed fortunes in recent weeks.

Despite knocking holders Chelsea out of the FA Cup and landing a 2-0 Premier League victory over Sunderland at Goodison last weekend the midweek cup reverse means Everton are smarting and will be determined to bounce back.

And Pardew is warning his players to be on their guard.

He said: “They are a team that will be wounded after the FA Cup defeat and will come to put it right. Knowing David Moyes as I do, he will be very, very determined to get a positive result at our place.”

The Newcastle manager and his squad will continue the fight for points at home to Everton today knowing victory would all but assure them of their place in next season’s top flight.

Barton and loan signing Stephen Ireland are doubts with thigh problems, but striker Shola Ameobi will return to the mix wearing a special mask to protect his fractured cheekbone.

The 29-year-old has been sidelined since suffering the injury at Fulham on February 2, and it is a measure of how well Leon Best, the man who partnered him that night, and Peter Lovenkrands have performed in his absence that he is by no means guaranteed an instant return to the team.

Pardew said: “No, that’s absolutely right. Peter and Leon have done really well.

“They go into this game with the shirts and it is down to their performance to keep them.

“But Shola is in and around it now, so they need to make sure they stay on their game.

“He is a very good player. He has been stuck behind very, very good strikers here for a lot of his career and perhaps has not had as many games as he would have liked.

“But he is certainly right up there with Leon and Peter and looking for a starting place, and that’s the competition you want.”

The Newcastle boss and his scouting team have started to identify potential targets for a summer recruitment drive.

Pardew is keen to be fully prepared for a crucial transfer window during which he hopes to be presented with the proceeds of Andy Carroll’s £35million departure for Liverpool.

The manager’s spending power will, of course, depend on his current crop of players finishing the job of securing the club’s Premier League status during the remaining 10 games of the campaign.

Uncertainty remains over the futures of Jose Enrique and Barton with talks over new contracts having been put on hold, but a list of prospective signings is being drawn up with the Magpies having already been linked with the likes of Cheick Tiote’s Ivory Coast international team-mate Gervinho and PSV Eindhoven winger Jeremain Lens.

Pardew said: “We have sat down and discussed briefly what the plans are, of course.

“It’s very important to have a strategic plan of what you are doing.

“We don’t want to be doing everything at the last minute.”

JERMAINE BECKFORD and time-keeping may be a touchy subject around Finch Farm this week. The striker was probably first on the team bus to

Newcastle yesterday, perhaps wearing two watches, after he turned up late for the FA Cup debacle against Reading.

But it would be ever so timely if the former prolific Leeds United man could strike the winner for the Blues at St James’ Park today.

Spirits around the Blue camp have understandably been at a low ebb since their Cup exit, and there are easier places to go in search of redemption than the North East, with the Magpies hoping for three points that could position them in the top six.

The reverse fixture at Goodison this campaign does not bode particularly well.

Everton sunk to an early season defeat which displayed the problems that have since developed into an ambition-crippling malaise; an inability to break down well organised, combative teams in tandem with an uncharacteristically leaky defence.

Yet on the road, with expectations lessened, the Toffees have fared better – and so they will hope to bounce back today.

The omens may slightly be in their favour. Newcastle have not won a Saturday home game with a 3pm kick-off in the Premier League for two and a half years – a record stretching back to August 23, 2008.

The Geordies have made steady progress in the league despite their managerial upheaval, although their best results have come on the road with wins at Arsenal and Goodison in September.

It is in the midfield where Alan Pardew’s team are at their most formidable. Carling player of the month Cheik Tiote was outstanding at Goodison last year, and was rewarded with a bumper new contract in January.

Evertonian Joey Barton has provided the creative outlet with six assists, although the maturing Scouser is an injury doubt for today, with the rusty Stephen Ireland on standby to make his debut.

Tiote has screened the defence well in the role Marouane Fellaini has sparked for the Blues in, winning more tackles than any other Newcastle player with a completion rate of 77%, while remaining tidy in possession.

But while Tiote is a top tackler, he is not as effective as Seamus Coleman.

The Ireland international seemed tired against Reading, and it’s important to remember he is still playing out of position and for a longer stretch than ever before in the top flight.

But with a success rate in terms of challenges of 88%, he puts many other opponents in the shade.

Elsewhere, United have their own consistently impressive left back in Spaniard Enrique, who may be heading for the exit this summer, while Jonas Gutierrez on the flanks has offered width and positivity.

Kevin Nolan, who has been ordered to pay a six figure sum to Victor Anichebe in damages for that infamous horror tackle in February 2009, has weighed in with 11 goals from midfield.

The captain’s contribution has helped ease the loss of their striking outlet, Andy Carroll, and United must now look to Shola Ameobi – who may play in a mask to protect his cheek bone today, or Peter Lovenkrands and Leon Best.

St James Park has seen more Premier League goals than any other ground this season, with 51 being scored in total, an average of 3.6 per game.

For all his current headaches, David Moyes is at least spared a defensive dilemma.

With Tim Cahill and Marouane Fellaini out injured, the team almost picks itself unless Moyes springs a surprise and uses Phil Neville as his defensive midfield screen while utilising Tony Hibbert at right-back.

More likely is Beckford and Saha starting up front, with Jack Rodwell and Mikel Arteta playing quite deep in midfield, as Leon Osman continues on the left and Seamus Coleman maintains his wide right remit.

Newcastle often keep a high defensive line and this could present Beckford with the perfect chance to use his pace and make amends.

David Moyes has denied Everton are to blame for the ankle injury that is likely to leave them without Marouane Fellaini for the rest of the season.

The influential Belgian midfielder is facing 10 weeks on the sidelines once he undergoes surgery on an ankle ligament injury he aggravated against Sunderland last weekend. Fellaini's father, Abdellatif, has claimed his son should never have faced Steve Bruce's side having been told to rest the ankle following a knock at Chelsea the previous week.

But Moyes countered: "The boy was fit, he wanted to train, so I am really surprised . He has got great recovery. He always wants to be out there. He wanted to train on Tuesday. He wanted to train on Thursday and I said 'no'. We wanted to see how he was on Friday. The boy was desperate to play, so we never saw this coming. There was no risk at all that I knew of. It's the other ankle to the one he injured at Liverpool ."

The Everton manager has also defended Jermaine Beckford after the striker missed Tuesday's kick-off against Reading in the FA Cup due to traffic congestion on the M62. Everton's players have to report for home games at Goodison Park no later than 90 minutes before kick-off but Beckford arrived as the match commenced.

"Maybe I will change the procedures but I have been here nine years and it has worked for nine years," said Moyes. "We have maybe had someone who has got stuck in a bit of traffic and been five minutes late but nine years I have done the same stuff and it hasn't affected the results too much. It was purely accidental. He left in enough time. We have all been stuck in situations where you can't do anything about it. For anyone to say anything would be throwing a stone in a glass house."

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