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Crystal Palace (A) Sat 31 Jan 2015, 15:00, Barclays Premier League

Strac Up For The Cup

by Adam Clark @efc_adamclark

Denis Stracqualursi says Everton have what it takes to go all the way in this season's FA Cup – but warned tonight’s replay at Sunderland will be their toughest test yet.

The Blues travel to the Stadium of Light with a place in the last four of the competition at stake.

An Everton win would set up a Wembley semi-final battle with neighbours Liverpool but Stracqualursi says the players will have to give their all to bring it to fruition.  

"We want to get through to the next round and we want to win the cup if we can," he said. "We know it's tough but it's not impossible. There are some tough teams left as you would expect at this stage of a competition, but it's not beyond us.

"It's going to be a very, very tough encounter against Sunderland and everybody is going to have to be at it. If everyone goes in and gives more than 110 percent of themselves that will be enough for us to go through.

"But we all know we need to fight really hard there because we've got really nice things around the corner if we can get through. A semi-final against Liverpool is something everybody wants to play in."

Stracqualursi’s goal helped Everton overcome Blackpool in the previous round and the Argentine admits it was a thrill to score in such a treasured competition.

"All strikers live off the amount of goals that they score," he said. "Goals give you confidence and a real boost and almost increase the desire to score even more goals.

“To score in such an important, prestigious tournament like the FA Cup was great and at the same time it helped the team through to the next round, which helps us along the road towards our objective of playing in the final.”

Meanwhile, Sylvain Distin believes Everton were unfortunate not to see off Martin O’Neill’s side when the first tie ended in a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park.

The Frenchman, who won the FA Cup with Portsmouth in 2008, remains wary of the Black Cats however, and is barring all thoughts of a Wembley return until a safe passage through is assured.

The defender said: “I feel like the first game was a game we could and should have won. We conceded the goal but apart from that I can't remember Tim [Howard] having to make one save.

"I think we played quite well but our last touch, our last pass or last shot wasn't clinical enough for us to win the game.

“You couldn't ask for a bigger incentive than playing Liverpool at Wembley but there's still a long way between now and that. There is Sunderland and it won't be an easy game over there.

"They've got one or two very influential players coming back as well so it's going to be a tough game and I'm not really thinking about Wembley right now to be honest. I just want to focus on Sunderland before thinking about playing at Wembley again.”

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