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DAVID MOYES admits he faces a dilemma over whether to drop out-of-form striker Nikica Jelavic.
The Blues boss is considering leaving out the 27-year-old for today’s FA Cup fourth round tie at Bolton, after he has failed to score in Everton’s last seven Premier League games.
Jelavic’s last goal for the Toffees came in the 5-1 victory at Cheltenham in the previous round, but he has otherwise struggled to recapture his prolific form from last season, and Moyes admits it has given him a selection headache.
He said: “I’ve got some more options now that I could use and he could benefit from time out, but I also think that maybe a couple of goals might change his world.
“It’s the balance of that and I’ll look at it and make a decision before the game to see what I’ll do. We’ve got three games as well this week, which is something I have to consider.
“It’s something I’ll have to look at but he’s not quite fired, and the chance he got at Southampton he would have stuck away when he first came in and it was looking a lot easier.
“Those couple of chances at the moment are just affecting us getting the wins.”
With fit-again forward Kevin Mirallas expected to be involved at the Reebok Stadium today, and Victor Anichebe in good recent form, Moyes is at least content that he has some strength in depth in his forward ranks – even if he would like to add another goalscorer to his squad this month.
“What we’ve got available makes a difference,” he said. “We’ve just in the last week or two started to get a bit more back which helps me and means I can try something else.
“Probably in the last month or so, we haven’t had many options to alternate it really but Nikica’s our main striker and I want to give him every opportunity to be the main striker. You’re caught between whatever you do could be wrong but I’ll look to do the right thing.”
Moyes’ decision on Jelavic will be influenced by the degree to which he believes Mirallas, who made his comeback against Southampton, is ready to start against the Trotters.
He added: “I’m a bit worried that because he’s only played 20 minutes, whether he could play 90 minutes. I’m not sure he could do that.
“Could he get 60 minutes? I would hope so, so I’ve got a decision over whether I start him or bring him off the bench but hopefully he’s going to be an important player for us in the final third of the season and that’s what we need him to be.”
Moyes also believes the re-emergence of Belgium international Mirallas could help ease the pressure on Jelavic.
He added: “I think he does a lot of things individually and a lot of attention has been drawn to Jelavic and when Kevin comes in it will take a little bit of the focus away from Jelavic.
“ Kevin created a lot more trouble which leaves more space and there will be more balls in the box where he can get opportunities.
“Hopefully he lives up to that. Ideally we would have them both in the team, but maybe there will be a time where it would be better where one of them isn’t in the team, but Mirallas hasn’t been in the team for three months really.”
DAVID MOYES has underlined the difficulty of signing players in January – although he remains hopeful Everton can add fresh faces before the end of the month.
The Blues were thwarted in their attempts to sign French international midfielder Yann M’Vila last week, with the 22-year-old eventually choosing to join wealthy Russian club Rubin Kazan in a deal worth £9.6m.
And although work is going on behind the scenes at Goodison to recruit another midfielder and possibly a striker before the deadline on Thursday night, Moyes insists his options are limited and any business is likely to happen at the end of the week.
He said: “I think from the start I said that January wouldn’t be full of signings, I don’t think I’ll be changing my tune from where we started.
“You never know, we might. We’ve tended to be Christmas Eve shoppers in the past, so hold on to your hat.
“I don’t think there has been a big market at the moment.
“There have been a certain few clubs and there’s been the odd buy, Liverpool buying Sturridge, but not many clubs have done an awful lot. QPR, Newcastle, and Reading have tried to bring in players to help them but there isn’t a lot around the mid-group. I don’t think January’s a good market.”
Moyes said he has a list of targets he is working on, even if it is hardly stacked with realistic options.
“We have targets but a lot of them, the club might not want them to go until the summer or you can’t get them until the summer,” he said.
“So there are some players we would be keen on if it was possible but most clubs don’t want to be doing an awful lot.
“Maybe some clubs need the money and might sell a player and that’s something we have to look at.
“There aren’t 20 (players) available.
“If you realistically look around, you would look at 20 and say ‘I don’t want him, I don’t want him, I don’t need that position, I don’t want him, he’s too old, he’s not ready’ so you might come down to one or two.
“By the time you’d done all that you might find there aren’t that many, but I’ve got a wry smile. There’s no science at all. Far from it.
“It’s a bit of luck or just the way things work.”
Whatever business he manages to do, the Scot would prefer to add quality rather than just depth to cover injuries to his squad.
He added: “If you have a couple of injuries, you might need something to give you a back-up, but I’d be hoping that we’d only be bringing someone in who could play at the top end of the Premier League and that comes down to availability or costing – that makes it difficult.”
IT MIGHT be freezing cold with snow still lingering on the pavements, but David Moyes is already starting to get that spring time feeling.
The seasoned Premier League campaigner knows that despite failing to win their last two games, his side have come through the taxing festive fixture glut relatively unscathed.
Tired and threadbare his squad may be, but starting with today’s FA Cup fourth round tie at Bolton Wanderers, Moyes is keen to remain focused on the positives.
“Once you get out of January you tend to see a little bit of light in the distance and you start to kick on a little bit,” says the Blues boss, who wants to keep alive challenges for the top four and the cup, even if that will present a stern challenge to his pool of players.
“The weather can start to turn and you smell the daffodils in the air and start to think there’s a way to go.”
Moyes must weigh up a familiar dilemma in selecting his line-up to face the Trotters this afternoon, aware that he also has two Premier League fixtures in the coming seven days to contend with.
But despite the weariness his side showed during a lacklustre first half against Southampton at St Mary’s on Monday, Moyes is still pleased with their overall performance levels this term.
“We’ve talked about that,” he says. “We’ve not been able to say that too many times and if you’d said that to me at the start of the season that we’d get to January 20 before a few of the players weren’t on it then I would have taken that all day long.
“I think the boys have only lost one in the last 11 games and they’ve not done an awful lot wrong. They could do better but they’ve not done an awful lot wrong.
“I got a lot of praise for playing the team against Cheltenham (in the last round of the cup) but that’s the effects that come. If you play your players in all of the games you’re going to have effects in other areas, whether you’re only in one competition or not, it’s just the demands of it and the way the players play so that’s why you see so many managers changing around.
“I don’t have quite as many games as the other managers so I can be a little bit more going for the two things but it’s not easy to go for them all with a small squad because it means that the players play every game week in, week out and they don’t really get a breather at all.
“We’re probably picking the same group just about, which can take its toll a little bit.”
Whatever the strain it involves on his men, Moyes is hoping his 500th match in charge of Everton today will take the club a step closer to its first trophy in almost 18 years.
“I didn’t know until Friday morning that it was 500 games. It’s amazing that some people have got 1,000 games at one club, that is some achievement,” he says. “Obviously 500’s not a bad number when you see the way people get rid of their managers so quickly nowadays.
“Hopefully the real highlights are still to come, they’re the ones I’m looking forward to. But I’ve enjoyed a lot of good times at Everton.”
The Toffees will be without full-back Seamus Coleman, who suffered a thigh injury against Southampton, but forward Kevin Mirallas and defender Johnny Heitinga are pushing to start.
Moyes said: “I think we’ve always gone for it. Talk’s cheap – you have to do it. We’re going to try to do it. I’ve said to the players that we want to try to win the FA Cup, but I say that every year. It’s down to us to try to make that happen.”
Bolton dropped out of the Premier League on the final day of last season after 11 years in the top flight, and they look unlikely to bounce straight back under new boss Dougie Freedman.
The Trotters showed what they are capable of by winning a third round replay at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light, though, having also led by two goals in the first match.
Moyes said: “Bolton were in the Premier League for more than 10 years so they’ll be disappointed to have slipped out of it. But they’ve still got a lot of Premier League players in their side so they’ll be doing everything they can.”
Some good news for the club this week was defender Sylvain Distin signing a new one-year deal, extending his stay until next summer.
The 35-year-old joined the Toffees from Portsmouth in 2009, and Moyes was pleased to retain his enduring services: “His performances since he came to the club have been excellent.
“He’s been reliable, he doesn’t miss many games with injury and he certainly keeps himself in great condition. He’s been very good for us and we’re delighted to keep him.
“You’re always looking to bring in fresh young players because you’re always looking to the future but I think coupled with that you do need to keep experience and in central defence especially.
“More and more it’s becoming an experienced position and his experience is vital to us.”
DAVID MOYES could be forgiven if, even just for a moment, he shudders as he arrives at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium today.
And not because of the ongoing sub-arctic temperatures which are gripping the UK either.
The Blues boss won’t need any reminding that it was the scene of one of the most abysmal Everton performances he has presided over.
His side had slumped to a lifeless 2-0 defeat in February 2011 at a rain-lashed Reebok, as goals from Gary Cahill and Daniel Sturridge left them facing a potential relegation scrap and Moyes, rarely one for over-reaction, was left (in the word’s of Alan Partridge) feeling “clinically fed up”.
“The performance was as bad as I can remember since I have been in charge,” he told the press afterwards with a face which failed to conceal his mixture of fury and disappointment.
“We never started well and gave away two very poor goals and we didn’t win the big challenges.
“We didn’t function today. The sort of toughness we have, which was required, just wasn’t there.”
The words were all the more powerful because similarly harsh assessments from the Scot are so rare, and in truth so rarely needed.
Even when his team have not won over the years, it is usually unthinkable that they have done so without at least putting up a fight or showing the hunger that flows through the veins of their ceaselessly demanding manager.
That’s why – as the Blues arrive in Lancashire this afternoon on the back of a particularly poor display on Monday – it’s vital that a healthy dose of perspective is applied.
The goalless draw at Southampton was unquestionably poor – if anything at least, the first half ensured that the rest of the country are unlikely to consider Everton as Champions League dark horses any longer thus maybe lessening the pressure on them.
But it was not in the same bracket of woefulness as that rainy Sunday almost two years ago. Since then equivalent off-days have been such a scarcity that displays like Monday’s hurt supporters more, but that in itself underlines how far the Blues have come.
They may have a small squad which is at full stretch prioritising the FA Cup and the top four, but with injured key men edging back and the festive glut out of the way there is plenty to remain optimistic about.
David Moyes is torn over the best way to tease star striker Nikica Jelavic out of his bewildering loss of form.
Everton manager Moyes knows the Croatian could do with a rest after 12 months of relentless competition - and just three goals in his last 17 games.
Yet he also feels a goal or two will spark the centre-forward back into the sort of form that made him a Goodison favourite when he arrived last January... and Saturday's FA Cup trip to Championship side Bolton provides a perfect opportunity.
"I've got some more options now that I could use, and he could benefit from time out, but I also think that maybe a couple of goals might change his world and change how it's seen," he explained.
"What we've got available makes a difference - it means I can try something else, but he's our main striker and I want to give him every opportunity to be the main striker.
"You're caught between whatever you do could be wrong but I'll look to do the right thing for him."
The return of Kevin Mirallas from injury has offered Moyes a different option up front, particularly with the strong form of Victor Anichebe, who provides the team with a target-man.
That could allow Moyes to change his side around at Bolton, and the manager admitted he may need to do so as Everton have shown signs of fatigue in recent games.
"I'm not sure Mirallas can play 90 minutes but I would hope he can play an hour, so I've got a decision," the manager added.
"When Kevin comes in, it will take a little bit of the focus away from Jelavic. I got a lot of praise for playing the first team at Cheltenham [in round three] but then you get the effects afterwards.
"If you play your players in all of the games, you're going to have effects in other areas.
"The way our players play means it can take its toll, so that's why you see so many managers changing around.
"It's not easy to go for all competitions with a small squad because it means that the players play every game week in, week out and they don~t really get a breather at all."
Moyes admits he is frustrated because he can't bring in new signings to ease the burden.
"I can't see it, but but you never know, we might," he said. "We've tended to be 'Christmas Eve shoppers' in the past, so hold on to your hat!"
Bolton's American star Tim Ream wants to serve up an FA Cup upset to one of his biggest pals - Everton keeper Tim Howard.
The pair play together for Uncle Sam, but will be enemies for Saturday's FA Cup fourth round tie at the Reebok.
Centre-half Ream is close to his Team USA sidekick Howard and was among the guests for a recent celebration dinner with some of their international-squad mates.
Ream revealed: "We all met up for Thanksgiving at the end of November - Timmy, [Bolton midfielder] Stuart Holden, [Stoke's] Maurice Edu and myself. It is nice to get together and hear a familiar accent.
"It was at Tim's house. He prepared a whole meal. Everyone brought a side dish. I don't think he did the turkey - he paid someone to do it!"
Ream and Howard both came to England from Major League Soccer's New York club, and the Goodison number one's fellow countrymen look up to him as a pioneer.
"Guys like Timmy have made that jump and definitely helped and got us to where we are now," explained Ream.
"He is good to work alongside. He is very knowledgeable. Timmy is very good at communicating and pushing guys on. He takes on board on the type of player you are and the skills set you bring on board. He is a good at figuring things out."
Ream and co are looking forward to facing the Toffees after a sticky season in the Championship, where he has found life - and football - different to his top-flight experiences.
He said: "Sometimes I feel like I'm playing American Football out there. For most it is putting it down the channels and up to the striker and having a battle with him.
"It is something that everybody has had to get used to, not just the guys at the back.
"The guys throughout the team have had to adjust and it's not just playing pretty and wanting two touches is not going to cut it every time you get the ball.
"It's a gritty league, you just have to grind the games out."
EVERTON'S Nikica Jelavic could be taken out of the firing line at Bolton today as boss David Moyes tries to revive the striker.
The Croatian enjoyed a flying start to life at Goodison Park, scoring 11 goals in 16 outings last season after joining from Rangers in January 2012.
But this season he has managed to hit the net only seven times in 24 appearances.
Now, with Belgian star Kevin Mirallas almost back to full fitness, Moyes is considering giving Jelavic a breather today.
The Goodison boss said: “I’ve got more options now and he could benefit from time out, but I also think that maybe a couple of goals might change his world.”
Moyes, who admits he is short of cash for new additions to bolster his side’s Champions League bid, said: “We’ve tended to be Christmas Eve shoppers in the past so it’s a case of hold on to your hat.
“Myself and the chairman have said there was a bit of money to do business with and that hasn’t changed.”
David Moyes has said he is torn over whether to rest Nikica Jelavic or give the out-of-form Everton striker another opportunity to "change his world" at Bolton Wanderers.
The Croatia international has this season shown only sporadic glimpses of the devastating form that produced 11 goals in 16 appearances for Everton following his £5.5m arrival from Rangers last January. A glaring miss in Monday's goalless draw at Southampton encapsulated Jelavic's change in fortune and Moyes, who reaches his 500th game in charge of Everton at the Reebok Stadium, is considering starting the fourth-round tie without the 27-year-old.
"He could benefit from some time out but I also think a couple of goals might change his world," the Everton manager said. "It's about getting that balance right and I'll look at it against Bolton. He's not quite fired and the chance he got at Southampton he would have stuck away when he first came in. At the moment those chances are affecting us getting the wins.
"In the last week or two we've started to get a few more players back, which helps me and means I can try something else, but he is our main striker and I want to give him every opportunity to be the main striker. I'll look to do the right thing for him."
Moyes believes the return from injury of Kevin Mirallas could help Jelavic, although the Belgium international is not ready to play 90 minutes after several months out with a hamstring problem. He explained: "There has been a lot of attention on Jelavic and, when Kevin comes in, it will take some of the focus away from him. Kevin creates a lot more trouble, which leaves more space and there will be more balls in the box where Jelavic can get opportunities. Hopefully he lives up to that."