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David Moyes has advised Jack Rodwell to forget about Euro 2012 after the Everton midfielder's season was effectively ended by the latest in a series of hamstring injuries. The England international suffered a grade one tear to his hamstring in training on Saturday – his sixth such problem of the season – and will visit the German specialist Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt in an attempt to identify the cause of an injury that has plagued him since the friendly victory over Sweden in November.
Rodwell, still only 21, had looked on course for a place in Ukraine and Poland when he impressed for England against Spain and Sweden last year; the final two games of Fabio Capello's reign as England manager. However, an appalling run of hamstring injuries that have restricted the midfielder to five Everton appearances since the Sweden game, and prompted an extensive rehabilitation programme, looks certain to have ended Rodwell's season at club level and destroyed his hopes of making Euro 2012.
Moyes revealed: "Jack has pulled his hamstring again and we are now trying to see when he can go to Germany for treatment. Dr Müller-Wohlfahrt is away this week and because he is the Bayern Munich club doctor he has a very big week next week because of their Champions League semi-final. So trying to get hold of him will be the hardest thing in the short term."
Everton have only five league games remaining this season plus the FA Cup, in which their semi-final is against Liverpool at Wembley on Saturday. Time and Everton's form are against Rodwell reclaiming a first team place before the end of this season and given his persistent problems, Moyes believes the midfielder – who was also in contention to play in the Olympic Games – should focus on returning fully fit for the next campaign in August.
The Everton manager added: "I would advise him to concentrate on next season because Jack has missed six months with hamstring injuries so we have to get him working on whatever work programme they recommend him to do."
EVERTON FC warmed up for Wembley in emphatic fashion yesterday – but the Goodison outfit insist Liverpool remain favourites for next weekend’s FA Cup semi-final.
David Moyes’s side secured their biggest Premier League win in more than two years by thrashing Sunderland 4-0 at home.
Magaye Gueye, Steven Pienaar, Leon Osman and Victor Anichebe were on the mark in the second half as Everton moved four points clear of Liverpool in seventh place.
The Goodison side have now lost just two of their last 17 games and netted 12 goals in their last five outings.
But assistant manager Steve Round believes such form will count for little when Everton face their neighbours at Wembley on Saturday.
“Being above Liverpool counts for nothing going into a Cup semi-final,” said Round.
“I think Liverpool are favourites. They have so many good players and are a club with such a great history and tradition.
“But we are a lot closer to them than maybe we were back in October.
“You never know, Liverpool could be on the turn, and with a semi-final it’s all about on the day.
“You are better off having momentum and being confident going into any game. But a semi-final at Wembley is a one-off and a local derby is a one-off, so you put the two together and there’s that element of FA Cup fate.
“I don’t think momentum matters that much. It depends on the day.
“Us having momentum and confidence has brought us closer to them. Hopefully that means we’ll have a good game and a better chance.”
Moyes made a number of changes ahead of Saturday’s game, with Tim Cahill, Nikica Jelavic and Leighton Baines all rested while Darron Gibson and Sylvain Distin were unused substitutes.
“One or two of them had slight knocks from Saturday, and it was a matter of not taking risks,” said Round.
“It’s important for any successful football club that competition for places is there. The boys went out and have proven that should the manager pick them, then they will be ready.”
Gueye’s strike was his first for the club since signing from Strasbourg in the summer of 2010, with the Frenchman having a hand in two further goals.
And Round added: “Magaye was terrific. We were disappointed with his performance at Norwich last week, and we took him off at half-time so he knew what was acceptable and not acceptable playing for Everton.
“He responded brilliantly. His energy and effort and link-up play was first rate. I’m really pleased for him.
“Magaye is a nice lad and a good character, trains well and he certainly has ability.”
Round also praised Steven Pienaar, who is ineligible for the FA Cup showdown having appeared for Tottenham Hotspur earlier in the competition.
“Pienaar has been terrific ever since he came back,” he said. “You can play him off the left, the right or behind. Everton may well be his spiritual home because when he plays for us, it brings out the best from him.
“Even without his link-up with Leighton Baines, he was still productive and scored a wonderful goal.
“We have hit some good form. It’s a great credit to the chairman that he managed to recruit some Grade A players in January.
“We got in Gibson, Jelavic and Pienaar, and the one that set the momentum rolling was Landon Donovan.
“It’s given the players a lift and has put us on a run of form. The other players have fed off that.”
JOHN HEITINGA is targeting European football with Everton after revealing the club is “part of him”.
The 28-year-old Holland international is in the best form of the Goodison Park career and is expected to start alongside Sylvain Distin at the heart of the defence for this weekend’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.
Heitinga is itching to win a trophy with Everton and wear the royal blue shirt on the continent.
Signed in September 2009, Heitinga was ineligible to play in the Blues’ Europa League campaign that season having represented Atletico Madrid in the qualifying stages of the Champions League.
Now he is focused on Saturday lunchtime’s showdown with Liverpool – and finishing above the Reds in the league.
“I’m very hopeful of winning something here and I’d love to play in Europe with Everton too” said Heitinga.
“We need to finish above Liverpool and as high as possible.
“The club is a part of me now. I really enjoy it here and I’m happy that I’m a part of Everton.
“I’ve got another two years left. I’ve said it before, I’m very happy here. Everton is a good club for me.”
The former Ajax man is relishing the chance to face Liverpool and says he knows just what the Merseyside derbies mean to the supporters.
“Those games are really big and different to other games,” he said of the derby. We all know how much they mean to the fans and of course that is the same for the players. It’s two teams from the same city, the stadiums are so close together, so it’s always one you look forward to
“The confidence is there and the atmosphere is really good. I’m excited and looking forward to the game.”
Heitinga has been impressed with the form of Nikica Jelavic since his arrival from Glasgow Rangers in January but the Dutchman is equally thrilled to be playing in the same side as a more established Everton player, a man who he rates above all of his team-mates.
“He (Jelavic) is a top striker,” added Heitinga.
“I really like him. He’s settled very quickly. He knows what he can do and uses his strengths to affect the game. He’s been good for us.
“Leighton Baines, for me, is the number one left back in England. He’s an important, important player for us.”