Sam Allardyce has called on his players to “stand on the front foot and be brave” when they take on city rivals Liverpool in the 231st Merseyside derby on Saturday.
The Everton boss also revealed that Idrissa Gana Gueye played a full part in training on Friday and hopes he will be in the squad, provided he has no adverse reaction.
Allardyce is eager for the Blues to channel their hunger and intensity into a winning display on Saturday and send “Evertonians home happy”. He hopes a rocking Goodison Park will spur on his side and has called on his players to approach the game with a positive mindset.
“We want to try and give everybody a lift,” he said. “We need to stand on the front foot, be brave and be clinical when we get opportunities.
“And if we are defensively sound, we can win. The players can do it if they really believe it.
“It’s more than just another game and the players will give their best and give everything they’ve got to try send the fans home happy.
“As for Idrissa, he finished a full training session today, so if he has no reaction he’s in the squad for tomorrow we’re glad to say. He provides us with real consistency.”
Key to emerging victorious on Saturday, Allardyce says, will be carrying out the gameplan he and his coaching staff have laid out.
The manager believes his defenders can provide a platform for the Blues’ wealth of attacking talent to do the damage at the other end.
“Their main strength is their attack and we’ve got to snuff that threat out,” he said. “When we get possession, it’s about making sure we maximise that and – when we get a chance – putting it in the back of the net.”
Allardyce says the supporters have been “great” ever since he arrived at the Club and believes they’ll have a key role to play tomorrow.
But while the boss is eager for his side to play on the front foot and help create a raucous atmosphere at the Grand Old Lady, he added it is vital the players keep cool heads.
“The fans have been great,” he said. “Our home record is very good, we’ve only lost two since I’ve been here.
“I think the fans and the occasion will lift the players tomorrow but we don’t want to get carried away. It’s how my players handle the derby atmosphere as well as the game – I think that’s a big thing we’ve got to master. We said today to the players ‘play the game, don’t play the occasion’.
“If we play our game and play to our very best, that’s all we can ask.”