Evans eager to deliver derby blow

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The Independent Online
Football

Liverpool may have failed to win in their last four meetings with Everton, but the Anfield club's manager, Roy Evans, will be expecting a reversal of fortune in tonight's 155th Merseyside League derby.

Joe Royle's arrival at Everton two years ago this month was marked by a 2-0 victory over Liverpool, with Duncan Ferguson spearheading the assault. Since then the Goodison manager has secured two draws and an Anfield win, with Andrei Kanchelskis' double securing a 2-1 success in the corresponding fixture last season.

With Liverpool's challenge for the Premiership gaining momentum, there is more than a matter of local pride, and personal revenge, at stake for Evans.

"This is not just another game," Evans said, "it's a derby match and it means a great deal for the football fans of this city. On one hand we've got to make sure we don't get too carried away by the occasion, but on the other we have to show passion and pride, especially so after last year when Everton beat us at Anfield.

"Everton have enjoyed a good run against us, but these things happen in football and we've had good spells in some of the games without coming away with a victory."

Evans has a glittering array of talent at his disposal, with more than pounds 15m worth of it expected to be sat on the bench in the shape of Stan Collymore, Patrik Berger and Phil Babb.

Yet Evans knows that his stylish side must be prepared to take on and counter Everton's robust manner. "There is a squad of 16 and I won't be making mass changes, although there are one or two options that I will use if I decide they are right for us," added Evans, who brought back Jamie Redknapp and Neil Ruddock at Leeds on Saturday and saw them both excel in a 2-0 victory.

"But whatever team we put out, it's important that they show full commitment for the full 90 minutes, because that's the one thing you can't do without in a derby.

"Once you have battled you hope that the football will then come through and it would be nice if we could win this one, both for local pride and to maintain our position in the League."

Royle faces even more pressing selection problems as he agonises over whether to make changes to the side that humbled Southampton 7-1 on Saturday.

Ferguson is ready to return after a two-month absence with a knee injury that required surgery and Royle admits he is tempted to recall the pounds 4m Scottish striker, who he describes as "a big-game player".

The Everton manager has already showed that he is not afraid to change a winning team and the prospect of linking Ferguson with the pounds 4.5m new signing, Nick Barmby, is one he will relish, with Graham Stuart the most likely player to stand aside.

"We needed special demands for the Southampton game when Craig Short made way so that we could bring Tony Grant into midfield and we might need special demands for the derby," said Royle, who has seen injury worries over Barmby and Joe Parkinson clear while John Ebbrell is also pressing for a recall after returning to fitness.

"I won't be afraid to make changes if I feel I need to, but I certainly won't be saying what the side will be."

The game was scheduled for Sunday, 20 October and both clubs will be hoping that the cold snap that has gripped the country does not put paid to the fixture for a second time.

Liverpool's progress in the European Cup-Winners' Cup and Coca-Cola Cup has already led to a congested fixture list at this relatively early stage of the season, while Everton will broadcast the game live on a giant screen at Goodison where it is hoped a crowd of 6,000 will watch the action.

Leeds have urged their troubled Swedish striker, Tomas Brolin, to return to Yorkshire and have tests on his damaged ankle to clarify the extent of the injury.

Brolin was due to join Sampdoria on loan with a view to a permanent transfer earlier this month, but that deal collapsed when the Serie A club's doctors ruled him unfit.

They claimed the player had not properly recovered from the effects of a broken ankle, sustained a year before joining Leeds, arguing the screws inserted in his foot would impair his play.

Now Leeds, fearing Brolin might be forced to retire, want him to seek a second opinion from a leading orthopaedic surgeon. The club's director and solicitor, Peter McCormick, said: "The player has now appointed a Fifa-registered agent in London. I have sent a lengthy communication to him requesting that Brolin returns to this country to be examined by a leading orthopaedic surgeon.

"Once that examination has been carried out and the results are known, Leeds will be in a position to consider the various legal options before taking the next step."

Liverpool (v Everton, Anfield, tonight, from): James, McAteer, Bjornebye, Babb, Wright, Ruddock, Matteo, Barnes, McManaman, Redknapp, Thomas, Fowler, Berger, Collymore, Warner, Kennedy.

Everton (from): Southall, Gerrard, Barrett, Hinchliffe, Short, Watson, Unsworth, Speed, Kanchelskis, Parkinson, Barmby, Grant, Ferguson, Stuart, Branch, Limpar.

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