Sporting primed for tough Toffees

Sporting Lisbon defender Tonel is bracing himself for a physical battering against Everton in the UEFA Europa League at Goodison Park tonight.

He expects to be kept on his guard by the likes of Louis Saha, Ayegbeni Yakubu and James Vaughan as the sides square up for the first leg of their last 32 encounter. Tonel said: "We know they will use the long ball and we expect it to be a physical game.

"But we are prepared for that and will try to apply ourselves in the correct way. It is not just about one or two individuals, we have to watch Everton as a team if we are to do well."

We know they will use the long ball and we expect it to be a physical game.
Sporting Lisbon defender Tonel

Tonel is hoping Sporting can rediscover their form in Europe after a dip at home, which sees them lying a distant fourth to Benfica in the Liga Sagres table. He said: "The players do not have to be told results have not been good enough.

"We know that more than anyone. We are determined to do well against Everton. We won't throw in the towel, we will put in the effort in the hope we can get our rewards."

Midfielder Marat Izmailov is set to face Everton but may not see out the campaign. Speculation is rife in Portugal that Izmailov will soon be heading back to Russia with Lokomotiv Moscow. The 27-year-old is apparently keen to return home with the Russian season due to start next month.

Coach Carlos Carvalhal refused to discuss the situation ahead of a training session at Goodison Park. Carvalhal took charge only last November but he disputes this is arguably the biggest game of his career. "It is not the most important match for me," he said. "They are all important. I am here to represent Sporting as well as I can in every game."