Moyes praises 'terrific' Neville
David Moyes believes his captain Phil Neville has the Manchester United winning mentality to lead Everton to FA Cup final glory. The Everton manager views the 32-year-old, who spent all of his career at Old Trafford before moving to Merseyside in August 2005, as the man to give the Toffees the edge over Saturday's Wembley opponents Chelsea.
Neville, who picked up a minor hamstring injury at Fulham on Sunday but is expected to be fully fit for the final, can be the vital ingredient to guide Everton to their first trophy since last winning the FA Cup in 1995. And although Moyes accepts his side will be the underdogs, he thinks they can cause an upset.
"We respect Chelsea and they will be the favourites," he said. "But we have drawn with them twice this season and done pretty well against them, and we feel we can do that again."
Moyes also expects South African midfielder Steven Pienaar to recover from a similar injury to the one Neville sustained in the 2-0 win at Craven Cottage. And it is to the former England international that he will look now for leadership as Wembley nears.
"I must pay credit to my captain," Moyes said. "He is a terrific leader and always has been, having come from a great club with wonderful traditions of winning. He understands what you have to do, and maybe it has taken time for people to realise what he is all about.
"But I could see the work he was doing on and off the pitch, his preparations for games. Every time he prepares as if it was a cup final and that says a lot about the man. But as well as that he wasn't prepared to let any players slack, he would let them know about it. And you can see that from the club he comes from, that is the way they do it and he is very good at it."
Moyes has difficult selection choices to make, revolving around whether Louis Saha is considered fit enough after a difficult season of injuries to start the match. The France striker has started the last two matches, wins over West Ham United and Fulham that ensured Everton claimed fifth spot in the Premier League.
But Moyes is believed to be considering a return to the team set-up he used initially in an injury emergency earlier in the season. Then, Tim Cahill and record signing Marouane Fellaini moved forward from midfield to play as forwards, and they did so to great effect. If the Scot opts for that system then 18 year-old midfielder Jack Rodwell could start.
"There are several permutations for the team, I will consider them and keep them to ourselves until the day of the game," Moyes explained. "We won't do anything different to a normal game. I will talk to them, but my job is to keep them relaxed and give them the platform to do as well as they have done in recent weeks."
Everton travel to their Hertfordshire hotel base on Thursday, and have no other injury worries to contend with.