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EVERTON talisman Tim Cahill is winning his battle to be fit for this weekend's Goodison derby.
Cahill suffered a badly bruised shin after being on the receiving end of a strong challenge from Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany during last Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Manchester City.
Everton manager David Moyes was furious Kompany escaped censure for the tackle, with Cahill instead booked and forced to limp off.
However, the Australian, who is Everton's top scorer in post-war derbies, is responding to treatment at Finch Farm and is now expected to take his place in the starting line-up against Liverpool.
In comparison to Anfield counterpart Kenny Dalglish, David Moyes can call upon a squad rich in derby experience.
But Phil Jagielka, who is poised for his eighth appearance in the fixture, is confident Everton's new boys will deliver if called upon for the 216th Merseyside showdown.
New signings Royston Drenthe and Denis Stracqualursi, along with young trio Apostolos Vellios, Ross Barkley and Magaye Gueye, could all be involved for the first time against Liverpool.
And Jagielka said: "Roy will know about derbies and was at Madrid who have some big rivalries and Denis will pick up on the vibe of it all. I am sure they will be fine.
"But yes, this week does feel a bit different. Obviously we have a few Evertonians in the squad, although there is probably the odd Liverpudlian in the building somewhere, but it is always talked about, right from the Monday all the way through to the weekend, and the players do look forward to it.
"The two teams aren't far apart in the table at the moment but that does not seem to really matter, the derbies are always good to watch for one reason or another and hopefully that will be the same on Saturday."
Barkley, meanwhile, could make his competitive debut for England Under-21s after being named along with team-mate Jack Rodwell in the England Under-21 squad for their UEFA European U21 Championships qualifying double-header next month.
Stuart Pearce's side face away games in Iceland and Norway as they aim to qualify for the 2013 European Championships.
Rodwell captained the U21s in the recent friendly win against Israel, a game in which Barkley earned his first cap at that level.
SYLVAIN DISTIN insists reports suggesting he is holding out for a new two-year contract at Everton FC are wide of the mark, and says he would be happy to sign a one-year deal at Goodison Park.
Stories circulated earlier this week claiming the French defender had been offered a one-year extension to his current deal, but that he was hoping to be handed an extra year as reward for his consistent form.
But the 34-year-old, whose current Blues deal expires at the end of this season, says he has made no such demands, and that he is happy to commit his future to the club.
Disitn said: "I read today in the newspaper that I was asking for a two-year contract. I am not sure where that has come from but it is completely untrue, and I would like to rectify that.
"I am happy with one-year. If Everton want to give me two then that is all good, but I am really happy with one."
Distin has been a virtual ever-present at Goodison since joining the club from Portsmouth in 2009, and is certain to start Saturday lunchtime's Merseyside derby with Liverpool.
There, he will come face to face for the first time with Luis Suarez, who has been in sensational form for the Reds this season.
Distin, however, insists that he will have no fears.
He added: "Luis seems to be a great player, an amazing player with great quality who can score goals. But he won't be the first great striker I have played against.
"I have been here for 10 years, I don't know how many games I have played, but I have played against players like Thierry Henry, Alan Shearer, Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, Fernando Torres. I could give you 20 or 50 names of top strikers I have played against.
"I played against (Edin) Dzeko and Aguero last weekend, so it is just going to be another good challenge, and one which I will enjoy. I can't wait.
"I actually think Aguero and Suarez are very similar in the way they are built physically, and the way they play. It will be another good test."
Everton managed to keep the free-scoring Aguero relatively quiet for more than hour at Eastlands on Saturday, but Distin expects to see a much more attacking performance this weekend, as David Moyes' side chase all three points.
"There was a lot of defending to do (at Manchester City) but that was just a one-off game," he said.
"It is not the Everton style.
"We play our football and try to win the game. That is a strength of ours.
"It is a home game as well, so we will not be going out just to defend. We want to win."
Phil Jagielka is relishing the Merseyside derby as the perfect pick-me-up for his Everton side.
And the England defender has promised Blues fans their heroes will be going all out for victory, after their disappointing performance at Manchester City last weekend.
Jagielka admits a change in the team plan backfired at the Etihad Stadium, but he insists the team will be back on track when Liverpool arrive at Goodison Park on Saturday.
"We changed things around a little bit for the City game, so hopefully we can go back to the way we have been for the Liverpool game and put up a performance and try to get a win," he explained.
"We will be trying our best to get three points, whereas against City it was more us looking for a draw and maybe nicking a goal.
"It'll be nice to get back to that. It's still going to be hard against Liverpool, they've had a decent start to the season, so we're not pretending we'll be up against a Liverpool that is struggling, but we'll be all out to win."
Everton have entered a tough run of games that could so easily undermine their positive start to the new campaign.
As well as the visit to City and the weekend's derby, they also face Chelsea (twice) and Manchester United in the next month.
But Jagielka insists his side relish the challenge of playing the top clubs.
"People would have looked at the fixture list and thought we were entering a run of games where maybe we aren't expected to get maximum points," he explained.
"But it brings out the best in us. There won't need to be a reaction for the Liverpool game. It's a good game for us to have after the City defeat, and I think you'll see the best of us."
Talismanic midfielder Tim Cahill is the one big doubt for the derby, as the Aussie struggling to overcome a shin injury.