Curbs looking to Everton

Alan Curbishley believes the example of Everton can inspire his side to strive to be a real Barclays Premier League force in years to come.

"They have demonstrated this year how durable they are," the manager said as he looked towards a tricky away trip to Goodison Park to take on David Moyes' men. Everton are riding high in fifth place and have ambitions of doing even better before the end of the campaign. "Over the last three years, David has turned Everton into a top-six side. I think we have the same potential. This year we have hovered mid-table for most of the season with all our problems ... it has made our squad stronger and it tells me that we can compete."


While Curbishley may be without Matthew Upson and Bobby Zamora, he has plenty of talented youngsters bidding to join Freddie Sears in making their mark on the first team. James Tomkins, Kyel Reid and Jack Collison have all travelled to Merseyside along with last week's hero Sears and the manager is focused only on his own options rather than who the opposition might field. "I am going to just concentrate on ourselves, whether we decide to go 4-4-2 or 4-4-3.

"We have been walloped the last two away games and got a lot of criticism - 4-0 at Liverpool and 4-0 at Spurs - so we can't lose sight of that but obviously there will be a bigger picture if I give some of these young players a game," he added, before reiterating the tenth-placed club's target was still to try and finish as high as possible. "We said with ten games to go we need to win a majority of the games, and it is even more of an imperative with eight games. We need to win a majority to have any chance."

Everton have injury worries over several players, including the likes of Tim Cahill, Mikel Arteta and Andy Johnson but Curbishley will not underestimate their resilience - especially as they won twice "in two tight games" at the Boleyn Ground back in December. "Everton have done terrifically well this season and they are a difficult side to play against. I am not too sure how they are going to shape up. I think they have got fitness tests for a lot of players which will determine how they go - a lot of the forward players are struggling.

"They have demonstrated this year how durable they are, even if problems come along. They have had a lot of football recently. They have had a break this week, so it is back on again for them. We know we have got a tough game. The bigger picture for me is to see what I have got here. We have had a lot of injuries and the squad has been tested but I want to see what I have got."