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Nev: Our Experience Is Vital

by Rob Urbani @efc_roburbani

Phil Neville believes Everton's big-game experience will be crucial in Saturday's FA Cup semi-final clash with Liverpool.

The Blues travel to the capital with a virtually fully-fit squad and a group of players boasting, collectively, in excess of 500 international caps.

That depth of experience coupled with the squad's knowledge of Wembley and memories of the 2009 semi-final and final will be utilised this weekend.

Neville told evertontv: "It does give you the confidence that you've played at Wembley a couple of times and you've done okay at Wembley so you're not going to be overawed by the size of the stadium, the dressing rooms or the actual occasion.

"It's about us just performing. We've got players who have played for England at Wembley, players who have played on the biggest stage so we've just got to make sure we play well, do the things that we're good at and in big games it can come down to small margins.

"After the 2009 final I thought, will we get back to Wembley? I thought we might do but you just never know in cup competitions. We've got another chance now for our supporters to go down to Wembley and that's really important and we've got a chance to play on the biggest stage.

"I always say that Wembley is probably the best stadium in the world to play at so as Everton players we've got the stage now to show our abilities. That's something that excites me. I love playing in the big games,

"I love playing particularly at Wembley. It's a special stadium, it's a stadium where you've got to win, so it's high pressure, high stakes and we're definitely up for it."

That anticipation and excitement is only intensified by the fact Everton's opponents this weekend are their local rivals.

It is a rivalry Neville enjoys: "There's two great clubs with great histories, with great rivalries, a nice rivalry - I always think it's nice rivalry between the two clubs and I'm sure both sets of supporters will go down to Wembley and there'll be no problems and they'll see a great game of football.

"Liverpool have beaten us twice this season, they've got players of world-class ability, they've got players with experience of playing on this stage. We've just got to make sure that we concentrate on ourselves, we concentrate on the confidence and belief we've been building over this last three or four months and hopefully show that on Saturday.

"Liverpool have won the Carling Cup and they can't qualify in fourth position in the league now so their attention has obviously turned to the FA Cup now. It's the only silverware left for them to win and the same for us so I'd say both teams are in a slightly similar situation in that the FA Cup is the be all and end all of our seasons.

"You can tell that by the selections that the manager has been making recently, the selections that Kenny Dalglish has been making, it's been geared towards this semi-final."

And if that fierce rivalry leads to stalemate after 120 minutes of football, Neville has no qualms about stepping up to take a spot-kick.

"It's something which might be needed. I think it's going to be a tight game and small details could decide it. As captain, I probably will be one of those ones who unfortunately will have to take a penalty."

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