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DAVID MOYES is set to put his faith in Shane Duffy as Everton enter a pivotal spell in the Blues boss’ Goodison reign.
The Republic of Ireland U-21 international has been told he is right in the mix to challenge favoured pair Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin for a first-team place as the Toffees chase a top four finish and FA Cup glory.
Duffy had previously been fourth in line to start in central defence and Moyes had considered allowing him to go on loan to gather experience, but has been impressed with his development in recent months.
And with John Heitinga’s poor run of form proving costly in recent weeks, Moyes has informed Duffy he will be going nowhere as the club attempts to compete on two fronts which could yet prove crucial to Moyes’ own Goodison future.
The 21-year-old was selected ahead of Heitinga to come on as a late substitute during Saturday’s fifth round FA Cup draw with Oldham, and will be on the bench again for the visit to face Norwich at Carrow Road in the Premier League on Saturday.
Another youngster hoping to force his way into first-team contention at the weekend is John Stones, with the 18-year-old January recruit a genuine contender to feature at right back against the Canaries.
Meanwhile, Phil Neville has vowed that Everton won’t be distracted by thoughts of Wembley before they face Oldham again.
If the Blues can overcome the League One side on Tuesday they will then face Wigan for an FA Cup semi-final place.
And while the skipper admits a potential home quarter-final offers a strong incentive, the 36-year-old insists the Latics are the only cup opposition presently occupying the Blues’ thoughts.
He said: "It is a massive carrot for us but I don’t think we can look much further than the replay against Oldham.
"They fear nobody and the results on Saturday, with Arsenal losing at home, provide a reminder that there are no easy games.
"If you aren’t on it, if your attitude is not right and if you don’t put your chances away, then you can be involved in an upset."
Everton’s replay with Oldham takes place on Tuesday February 26 at 7.45pm, and will be shown live on ITV1. Tickets for the game are available.
KEVIN SHEEDY was full of praise for his young side after Everton Under-18s staged a stirring FA Youth Cup fightback against Arsenal.
The Blues went behind to Chuba Akpom’s 11th-minute opener on Monday night at Underhill in Barnet, but hit back in style to record a 4-2 victory and reach the quarter-finals.
Matthew Pennington levelled the scoring moments later, before Chris Long, Conor Grant and Harry Charsley put the Gunners to the sword during a whirlwind start to the second half.
“I’m absolutely delighted,” said Sheedy. “I’m not surprised the way the players have been recently, the way they’ve trained, we’ve got great camaraderie about the team, they all play for each other, they try their hardest and they’re an excellent group of players to work with and they more than deserved the result tonight.
“I’m really proud of them, I was proud of them after the last round but this is an excellent Arsenal team and we had to work exceptionally hard, which the players do and I think the 4-2 scoreline was the right score.”
Sheedy’s opposite number had approached the game with intent – and opted to rest his entire starting line-up for Saturday’s league fixture against Manchester City.
“That was a very, very good Arsenal team – don’t underestimate them,” said Sheedy. “They’ve got some excellent players but our work ethic and desire to win was there and we thoroughly deserved to beat them.
“Our finishing was excellent. I said to the lads before the game that we had plenty of players who could score goals, whether it be from set-pieces or open play.
“We conceded a soft goal and there was a good finish for their second, but we’ve got goals in our own team. If we perform like that, they’ll have no complaints from me.”
And after three away ties so far in the competition, Sheedy admits a home tie against Norwich or Birmingham City in the quarter-finals will be a welcome prospect.
“It will be nice,” he said. “But we’ve had tough encounters and it’s good experience for the players to come away and play at league grounds. They’ll learn and it’s good for their development.
“I’ve got no qualms about their character, I work with them every day, me and Duncan Ferguson, and they give us what they’ve got, they want to get better, they want to improve, they want to be a team and they showed that tonight with the camaraderie as I said, and their will to win and that was there in abundance and you know we’re doing really well at the moment.”
The game between Norwich and Birmingham takes place next Tuesday, February 26.
Goalline technology will be used at the World Cup in Brazil next year and could be introduced in the Premier League as early as next season.
Fifa announced plans on Tuesday to introduce the technology to the game’s flagship tournament and invited tenders from interested providers, and the Premier League later revealed that it was “close to entering a formal tendering process” as well.
Fifa hope to confirm which of four systems they have chosen by “early April” so the technology could be used at this summer’s Confederations Cup in Brazil.
The game’s world governing body trialled the camera-dependent ‘Hawk-Eye’ and magnetic field-based ‘GoalRef’ at December’s Club World Cup after granting both licenses for worldwide use.
It is understood ‘Cairos’, which is similar to GoalRef, has passed Fifa tests and a licensing agreement is likely to be signed by next week, when it is also expected to be announced whether an unnamed fourth system has passed the testing phase.
Fifa said in a statement yesterday: “Fifa has decided to use GLT at the Fifa Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 and 2014 Fifa World Cup Brazil.
“The aim is to use GLT in order to support the match officials and to install a system in all stadia, pending the successful installation, and pre-match referee tests.
“With different technologies on the market, Fifa has launched a tender today [Tuesday], setting out the technical requirements for the two forthcoming competitions in Brazil.
“The two GLT providers already licensed under Fifa’s Quality Programme for GLT, and other GLT providers currently in the licensing process (that must have passed all relevant tests as of today) are invited to submit tenders.
“Interested GLT companies will be invited to join an inspection visit to the Confederations Cup venues, currently scheduled for mid-March, with a final decision due to be confirmed in early April.”
Hawk-Eye and GoalRef both successfully recorded all 21 goals at last year’s Club World Cup and, crucially, did not throw up any false readings.
The pair appear to have a head start on their rivals but Fifa will also consider factors such as cost, installation time, and the amount of maintenance a system requires in making its final decision.
A Premier League spokesman said the English top flight would also choose a single provider. “We are close to the point where we will be tendering for that,” he said, confirming he hoped any system would be up and running for the start of next season.
The Football Association could piggy back on any Premier League deal to introduce technology for matches at Wembley, while the Football League confirmed it was still considering if — and to what extent — it would attempt to implement it in the lower leagues.
Of the four systems under consideration by Fifa, Hawk-Eye is English, while the other three are German (GoalRef also uses Danish technology).
It was the 2010 World Cup match between England and Germany that convinced Fifa president Sepp Blatter to perform a
U-turn on the use of goalline technology, having watched Frank Lampard denied a clear goal.
Uefa president Michel Platini remains a steadfast opponent, however.