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Everton are considering offering out of contract midfielder Owen Hargreaves a lifeline in the Premier League after a proposed move to Lille fell through.
Former England midfielder Hargreaves has been without a club since leaving Manchester City at the end of last season, after managing just four appearances for the Premier League champions.
Injury problems that have dogged the 31-year-old’s career but he had hoped to get his career back on track at the Etihad after leaved rivals Manchester United the summer before.
However, Hargreaves has had no shortage of offers since, and had looked set to sign a one-year contract at French club Lille a fortnight ago, following a training stint with the club.
The Canada-born midfielder had even been spotted in the stands at some of their recent matches, but after Lille pulled out of the deal at the last minute, Hargreaves is back at square one.
He has had some contact with a number of Championship clubs since, but the player is desperate to remain in the top flight, and Everton boss David Moyes is now said to be mulling over offering him a trial with a view to a permanent deal.
Moyes, who is looking to add to his options in defensive midfielder after losing out on Steven N’Zonzi to Stoke last month, could offer Hargreaves a pay-as-you-play contract, with a basic salary of just £10,000-a-week.
A decision will be made in the next few days, with Hargreaves also weighing up an offer from a leading MLS club.
Nikica Jelavic has been ruled out for two weeks after sustaining a knee injury in Everton's 2-2 draw with Newcastle on Monday.
The Croatia striker has been on crutches for two days after he collided with a goalpost on Monday evening but fears that he sustained a serious problem have been allayed after he underwent a scan.
He is expected to miss the Barclays Premier League games against Swansea and Southampton, as well as the Carling Cup tie at Leeds.
EVERTON are anxiously waiting to discover whether Nikica Jelavic will be fit to face Swansea amid fears he could be sidelined with a knee-injury.
The Croatian striker has undergone a scan on his leg after limping off before half-time during Monday’s draw with Newcastle at Goodison.
Jelavic collided with the goal-post as he tried to give Everton the lead causing him to require lengthy treatment, and although he recovered to play on, the 27-year-old eventually had to be withdrawn later after he was accidentally hurt in a challenge with Leon Osman.
David Moyes will assess the results of the scans before deciding whether to rule his £5.5m goal-scorer out of Saturday’s trip to the Liberty Stadium, and turn instead to Victor Anichebe or Steven Naismith.
Anichebe scored against Newcastle after replacing Jelavic, and Naismith has impressed during his early appearances for the Toffees since making a summer switch from Rangers.
If he is forced to go without Jelavic’s services, Moyes will at least be cheered by the goal-scoring prospect of another new boy, Belgium international Kevin Mirallas.
Mirallas was handed a first Premier League start for Monday’s 2-2 draw with the Magpies, and his eagerness to shoot at goal was pleasing for the Scot.
“He had three or four opportunities that he made himself,” said Moyes. “I thought he played well. He’ll give us another attacking player who looks like he might have a goal in him.
“He can play either side for us and he’ll play through the middle as well. He scored a lot of goals in Greece and I think you could see on Monday, every time he got the ball you thought he was going to try and get a goal and try to shoot somehow.
“Hopefully he does that and a few go in for us.”
Moyes was also satisfied with Anichebe’s impact. He added: “He got the winner that went over the line which they didn’t give. You’ve got to say, on the night, he had two goals – he did score one and he did score another that wasn’t given.”
Meanwhile former Hamburg and Aston Villa midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger trained with the Blues at Finch Farm yesterday, as Moyes mulls over whether to offer him a short-term contract to boost his engine room with Darron Gibson facing another two to three weeks on the sidelines.
Costa Rica international Bryan Oviedo, 22, also trained with his new team-mates for the first time, and could feature on Saturday.
IN HIS prime the original Beast Julio Baptista averaged more than a goal every other game for Sevilla.
So far by comparison Victor Anichebe’s strike Record is more modest, but his team-mates still think he is perfectly equipped to inherit the Brazilian goal machine’s nickname.
Anichebe may still divide opinion among the Everton fans, but Leighton Baines believes the 24-year-old is ready to fulfil his long-touted potential this season – and insists two goals in three appearances so far proves it.
With an injury scare now hanging over David Moyes’ first-choice striker Nikica Jelavic, the Nigerian international may have a chance to build on his impressive start to the season by starting against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.
“Victor’s starting to grow into the role he needs to be in at the club,” says Baines. “We want to get behind him.
“We don’t know what the situation is with Jela, but Victor is definitely more than capable of coming in.
“And there’s not a centre-half in the world who isn’t going to find him a handful when he’s playing like that.
“You can see that he’s definitely stepped up.
“His confidence has improved. He’s ready to take on the role if needed. He’s ready to come in and fill anybody’s boots.
“Victor’s more a beast than a man at times.
“He can be a great asset to us and if he gets the chances he can show what he’s done in the glimpses we’ve seen him this season.”
Anichebe bagged one against Newcastle on Monday, having been denied an earlier goal by assistant referee Ceri Richards’ failure to spot that his header had clearly crossed the line.
The academy graduate got off the mark this term during Everton’s 5-0 rout over Leyton Orient in the Capital One Cup last month, with a powerful individual performance which caught Baines’ attention and proved he had been listening to his words of encouragement.
“If you looked at Victor against Leyton Orient, he didn’t half work hard and ran round,” adds the England international.
“Against Newcastle he did the same, he worked hard, chased things down and nearly got a block in off their goalkeeper.
“I’ve told him a million times that when he pins back centre-halves, he’s too strong for them, especially when he’s turning inside the box and at speed.
“When he does the same on the halfway line, he’s running away from nine out of 10 people.
“I’ve seen him do it time and time again.
“We tell him all the time that when he’s doing that, you can’t stop him.”
Baines believes Saturday’s trip to South Wales assumes greater importance for the Blues after the infuriating way they were denied three points against Newcastle on Monday.
Victory over Michael Laudrup’s side would bolster their progress up the Premier League table and return them to winning ways after setbacks at the Hawthorns and the frustration of only taking a point against the Magpies.
“Going to Swansea was always going to be a big game because of the good start we have made,” says Baines.
“We felt we could have beaten Newcastle, so to not do that was disappointing.
“If we go to Swansea and get a win, then everybody will be feeling a lot better.
“The Newcastle game is almost one of those where it feels like a defeat because of the timing of their equaliser, we’ve given the game away more than anything.
“We will look to bounce back from it.”
As they continue to prove they are capable of starting the season well after all, Baines believes Everton must also begin focusing on ensuring their customary scintillating form after Christmas also prevails.
“We have that period between international breaks now in which we really want to make the most of it,” says the 27-year-old who made his first Three Lions start in place of the injured Ashley Cole during England’s most recent draw with Ukraine in the World Cup qualifier at Wembley.
“It will be a good time to set out our stall and target going unbeaten and getting as many points on the board.
“Hopefully that will put us in a good position going into the next window of games coming up to Christmas.”
EVERTON FC midfielder Jill Scott set England Ladies on the road to a 3-0 over Croatia Ladies at Walsall’s Banks’s Stadium yesterday to secure qualification for the UEFA Women’s Euro 2013 Finals.
Scott gave England a first-half lead and second-half goals from Eniola Aluko and captain Casey Stoney sealed the victory.
The win lifted Hope Powell’s side to the top of Group 6 with 20 points, one more than Holland, and secured an automatic berth in next summer’s finals in Sweden.
England thrashed bottom side Croatia 6-0 away in March and were similarly dominant last night, with Scott putting them ahead in the 21st minute with a close-range finish after Croatia keeper Doris Bacic had spilled a shot from Aluko.
Rachel Yankey, making a national record 120th appearance for the England Women’s team, then set up Aluko to make it 2-0 in the 47th minute with a shot that went in off the post.
England should really have been celebrating a much bigger margin of victory in the end as both Carney and Anita Asante struck the woodwork in the second half .
Powell’s team did score again with Stoney firing in from the edge of the area in the 80th minute following Yankey’s cut-back.