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Everton look for first Cottage win

last updated Thursday 21st May 2009, 9:06 AM

Everton defender Phil Jagielka
Everton defender
Phil Jagielka
Everton defender Phil Jagielka has revealed there is still a steely determination within the Everton squad to hang on to fifth place this weekend.

The climax to the Premier League season is being overshadowed by the build-up to the FA Cup final with Chelsea a week on Saturday.

But there is still some significance attached to Sunday’s trip to Fulham as Everton aim to retain the fifth place they achieved last season.

Aston Villa have to win at home to Newcastle and send them down if they are to have any chance of overhauling the Goodison Park outfit and moving into the top five.

Everton have never won at Fulham in seven attempts since their return to the top flight in 2001, while the return fixture at Goodison has also gone the way of the home side in each of those campaigns.

But far from conceding that the Londoners – who are gong for their highest-ever league placing and Euro qualification for the first time – will continue the sequence of home wins, Jagielka insists the players aren’t thinking ahead to Wembley yet.

The defender, who swept the board at the club’s Player of the Year awards on Monday night but is recovering from a cruciate ligament injury, said: “There’s no way the players’ focus is on anything but getting a result at Fulham.

“It would be easy for them to be thinking about Wembley and the Cup final now because the result at Fulham isn’t important in terms of European qualification because we’ve already sorted that out.

“To be fair, it will be a tough game and given the record we have at Fulham we might as well just agree to share the six points at the start of the season – it would give the lads a good rest before the Cup final anyway!

“But if you look at the top four, then finishing fifth is obviously the highest after that so it is always something to aim for.

“Although this season has to go down as better than last year because of the Cup run, we were fifth last season and we don’t want to drop a place.

“We want to hang around there for as long as we can and then hopefully, sooner or later, we can be higher than fifth.

“But there is a genuine determination to win the game and, looking at Villa playing Newcastle, we’ve got the tougher game but we definitely want to win it.”

Whatever the outcome against Chelsea, manager David Moyes is convinced glory is “round the corner” for his Everton side.

And as Jagielka prepares to commit himself to the club by signing a contract extension, he is convinced that silverware will cement the current team’s place in the history books.

Source Nick Smith at Liverpool Daily Post
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