Football

Moyes sees Toffees consistency as key

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David Moyes is calling on his Everton players to become a model of consistency in the remaining weeks of the season.

The Scottish boss has been left exasperated by his side's ability to blow hot and cold.

Everton face Birmingham on Wednesday knowing a third successive league victory will take them into eighth place, just behind local rivals Liverpool.

They go into the match at Goodison Park on the back of a win at Newcastle, but that came in the wake of a home FA Cup defeat by second tier Reading.

Moyes said: "I want the players to show how good they are and go on a decent run and get a bit of consistency.

"Our players are always good at bouncing back and showing it matters to them. I think the resolve has always been there.

"It has been in the make-up over the years. But we do not want to be winning one game and losing one."

Moyes wants his team to push for sixth spot and banish any fears of relegation once and for all. And he is comforted by the fact their home league form has been nothing short of superb, with only three defeats in the last 25 games.

"I am going to try and do it. I am not sure if it is realistic or not. But we will try to get as high up as we can," he said.

"We want to stay away from the bottom end. Certainly if we get another win or two then it will make sure we can't get pulled back into that. But we have still got a bit of work to do.

"We have won three out of our last four Premier League games so we are doing okay."

Skipper Phil Neville will miss the match after he suffered a hamstring injury at the weekend. John Heitinga looks set to return to the team.

Victor Anichebe is doubtful with a knock while Tim Cahill and Marouane Fellaini are again ruled out through injury.

Opponents Birmingham find themselves in the relegation zone after they lost to local rivals and fellow strugglers West Brom at St Andrew`s.

That setback came following their shock Carling Cup victory against Arsenal at Wembley the previous weekend.

Moyes believes the Blues may be suffering from "second season syndrome".

"They had a great year after coming up and sometimes it can happen," said the Everton boss, who expects a side fashioned by fellow Scot Alex McLeish to be hard to beat.

"But they are doing great in the cups. They did well to get a marvellous result against Arsenal. That shows you the level of the Premier League and how tough it is.


 

"However we have got to go and try and continue our relatively good league form."

Birmingham boss McLeish admits concern over his players suffering burn-out is one of his biggest fears in the battle to ensure Premier League survival.

Blues have slipped into the bottom three after a woeful performance in Saturday's 3-1 home reversal against Albion.

McLeish was deprived of several key players through injury, including midfield duo Barry Ferguson and Craig Gardner who will again be absent at Goodison Park.

The former Scotland boss has never doubted the commitment and honest endeavour of his players.

But he is worried about the danger of players running out of steam given their pursuit of cup glory on two fronts alongside the fight to retain top flight status.

McLeish, whose side entertain Bolton in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Saturday, said: "You definitely worry about burn-out because of the amount of games they've played.

"The concentration that was there for the Stoke game and then the Arsenal game at Wembley in the Carling Cup was missing at the weekend.

"Whether that was tiredness or burn-out, then that's the only excuse I would be prepared to make for them.

"There's not a lot you can do about it."

McLeish acknowledges Blues face a difficult run which includes away games with Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham.

But he has seen his side rise to similar challenges earlier in the campaign and will expect the same again.

He said: "There was a period earlier in the season when people looked at the fixtures and tipped us to get no points out of 12.

"We ended up with six or seven points through beating Chelsea and drawing with Manchester City and Tottenham during that run."

Defender Martin Jiranek is set to return after missing out against West Brom with a thigh injury, while McLeish will run a late fitness check over striker Nikola Zigic (groin).

Liam Ridgewell is expected to play despite needing an injection to ease a groin injury minutes before kick-off against the Baggies.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
Tottenham Hotspur
Football
Premier League
Birmingham
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