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DAVID MOYES has challenged Marouane Fellaini to follow the example of Lionel Messi when it comes to coping with being targeted by opponents.
The Everton boss wants his influential midfielder to remain calm under provocation like the Barcelona star, and learn the lesson of his three-game suspension for head-butting Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross last month.
Fellaini – who has again apologised for the flash-point which saw him fined heavily by Everton – also insists he is happy at the Toffees and is not looking for a transfer.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Newcastle when Fellaini is set to return for the Blues, Moyes said: “The best person you have to look at is Lionel Messi. Every person targets him, every person tries to kick him and every person tries to stop him and they’ll do everything.
“But all he ever does is get up and get on with it. That’s the sign of a top player. It says to people ‘whatever you do, it doesn’t affect me’.
“The best in the world is Lionel Messi who gets physically attacked every game by people trying to stop him, but he keeps doing what he’s doing.
“I tell Felli that you just have to get on with it. If I was playing against Felli I’d try and wind him up. Anybody would. That’s what happens with good players.”
Moyes, who will assess where to deploy the 25-year-old at St James’ Park with the news of Darron Gibson’s injury, insists he has no deep concerns about the player’s character.
And he said he was heartened at how his side coped in the Belgian’s absence.
“He’ll certainly be back in the squad. Whether he comes straight back in, I’ll have a look at it. But we played quite well in his absence, Victor and Jelavic have played okay.
“We won two and lost one and that’s better than drawing three games. We’ve been drawing a lot lately, so that was better. And the one we lost we were a bit unfortunate. We have done okay with what we had.
“I felt as if he let us down. But that is in the past now. We have moved on. He has paid his punishment for it and we have as well.
“I don’t have any concerns about his character overall. He’s actually a really good lad. But something he’s going to have to be careful and mindful of is that people are going to pay more attention to him.
“It’s not as if you can miss him that easily. That’s what I was annoyed with. When you are that easily recognisable and seen, how can you ever think you are ever going to get away with anything?”
Fellaini himself remains contrite about the incident at the Britannia stadium, and told reports in Belgium that he is happy at Everton.
He said: “Normally I am a very honest player, but that was just frustration at Stoke.
“Ryan Shawcross was pushing and pulling me the whole game, and, in the end, I just exploded.
“But I shouldn’t have, and I’m sorry for what I did. The punishment was right. I can’t complain about that.
“I have a contract with Everton until 2016, and, if the club want, I will see that out. I know I am hot, and I want to move forward one day, but I will finish my Everton contract if they want me to.
“I am living in Manchester now, because in Liverpool, the women were crawling for me. It was too much. In Manchester, people don’t recognise me that much and tend to treat me in a more respectful way. I don’t want to be a star. I just want to play football.”
THE tinsel and trees may soon be taken down in homes across Merseyside, but for Seamus Coleman every day of the year feels like Christmas.
The Everton defender who signed a new five-and-a-half year contract yesterday is living his dream, and thanks to his unconventional route to the top he insists he’ll never forget it.
While other Premier League players were being groomed and fine-tuned into mini professionals at the age of 18, Coleman was still getting knocked from pillar to post on the Gaelic football field for his local team Na Cealla Beaga.
So the 24-year-old makes no apologies for retaining the boyish enthusiasm for the career he enjoys on Merseyside.
Although he may still be learning, and there are times his raw edges and late-start in the game remain apparent, the talented right-back wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Obviously I missed out on a lot of the things which academy players in the county get but maybe it was good for me in a way,” says the Donegal-born player who opted to focus mainly on football when he joined Sligo Rovers in 2006.
“You see young lads playing in the Premier League now at the age of 17 or 18 and I was playing Gaelic football at that age. It’s crazy. I look at them doing so well and it’s mad thinking about me playing a different sport on a Saturday afternoon back then.
“Because being at a top club is all some academy kids have ever known perhaps they do take it for granted in some cases. I’m not criticising them. I understand that because it’s all they’ve ever known but it’s one thing you’ll never see me doing.
“I’m very grateful for what I have. I never drive through those gates (at Finch Farm) thinking training is a chore.
“I always remember I’m at Everton Football Club. I’m in the Premier League and I’ll never take it for granted. I’m sure people will read this and think ‘Oh here he goes saying this again’ but it’s the truth.
“I’m privileged to be where I am and I know that.”
Coleman, who hopes to be fit to return to action in time for Everton’s FA Cup third round tie at Cheltenham, also aims to emulate the longevity of one of the club’s other right-backs – Phil Neville.
"I’d love to emulate Phil. I know I’ve got to keep improving but I’d love to stay here as long as possible and he’s a great example to be 35, nearly 36 is great,” he says. “I’d love to be fit enough to do that as well. He’s been great with me and helped me a lot.
“He keeps us on our toes as a captain and I’ve picked up things from him; little stories or how to adapt to certain games or certain opposition players. He’ll give me practical advice and I’ve been lucky that way.
“Having players like Phil Neville, Tony Hibbert and Leighton Baines around me has helped tremendously. You couldn’t not learn from guys like that. They’re great role models.”
Coleman admits he now feels secure at Everton after penning his new deal, but it wasn’t always that way after he arrived with plenty to prove in 2009.
“When I first signed it was a two-year contract I think and I just looked at it as more of a long-term trial. I was here to try and prove myself and that I was good enough to take the massive step from the League of Ireland to the Premier League here,” he says.
“It was difficult making the transition but I just went out and tried to play my game and thankfully had a good year of it. It was something I’d always dreamed about so I just tried to grab it with both hands.
“Last year I had some injuries and a dip in form but I kept working hard, which is one of my attributes. Thankfully I got a run in the side in my favourite position this season and I enjoyed it. I think if you work hard enough anything is possible. Some lads are born with loads of natural ability and maybe I wasn’t one of them but I’ve worked hard growing up and luckily I’ve got where I wanted to be.
“If you want it bad enough and there is some ability there it can happen for you.
“Since I’ve done it James McLean has come over as well so it proves it can be done.”
He might have come a long way since those early days at Sligo’s Showgrounds stadium, but for Coleman there are still similarities between his former and current club.
“I love Everton because this is a family club in a similar way to Sligo,” he says.
“There certainly weren’t as many staff at Sligo but they were brilliant and here it’s the same.
“A lot of my friends back home are United fans but when I play they’re Everton fans.
“It’s great and when I go back to where I’m from and I see a kid in a Coleman jersey it’s still mad.”
DAVID MOYES is eyeing up a six-month loan deal for Manchester City flop Scott Sinclair.
The winger has had just two league starts for the champions since his £8million summer move from Swansea.
Sinclair, 23, is frustrated at his lack of chances and could use a loan move at Champions League chasers Everton to prove his worth.
Goodison chief Moyes would like to bolster his squad as he looks to gatecrash the top four and qualify for Europe’s elite competition.
Meanwhile, Everton defender Seamus Coleman has signed a new 5½-year contract.
The Republic of Ireland international, 24, will now stay on Merseyside until the summer of 2018.
He said: “I’m over the moon. I’m glad to get it all done.
“To sign for so long at a club like Everton is a great achievement.
“Signing a contract here is fantastic and I’m really looking forward to the next couple of years.
“I’m going to keep working as hard as I have done since day one and keep improving every day in training to impress the manager. I’m really happy.”
Eintracht Frankfurt want Everton midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger.
The 30-year-old Germany international is out of contract this month as he only signed a short-term deal after joining as a free agent.
Everton manager David Moyes is contemplating giving him a fresh contract after his performances in recent weeks but his resources are limited.
That could change if Galatasaray firm up interest in defender John Heitinga with a bid. The 29-year-old is keen to leave and Gala and Fenerbahce who - are also showing interest in West Brom defender Jonas Olsson - have been monitoring his situation since the summer.
His agent Rob Jansen last week said: 'Heitinga is definitely not happy with what it happening at Everton and we don't hide that. He is looking at a solution. When an appropriate situation arises for a transfer, we will certainly not ignore it.'
Meanwhile, Everton scouts have watched 22-year-old Moreirense striker Nabil Ghilas. The Algerian has a French passport and has scored seven goals in 12 games this season.