Europa League: Kenwright backs Moyes as vital to club

As the longest-serving Everton manager since Harry Catterick and the most successful since Howard Kendall's first spell at Goodison Park ended in 1987, David Moyes probably did not need a vote of confidence from his chairman – even with his side three points off a relegation place in the Premier League.

That, however, is what Moyes received in Athens last night as he prepared for a Europa League encounter with AEK that will go a long way to decide whether his injury-ridden side join Liverpool in the knockout stages of the competition.

Announcing a trading loss of £6.7m, offset by a record turnover of £79.4m, the Everton chairman, Bill Kenwright, called Moyes "the single most important figure at the club," adding: "We all strive on a daily basis to provide the tools he believes are necessary if we are to continue to evolve and develop into a genuine and meaningful force in British and European football."

Moyes' resources looked painfully thin, particularly defensively. Both his regular centre-halves this season, Joseph Yobo and Sylvain Distin, are suffering from hamstring injuries and are unlikely to be involved.

Since Jack Rodwell, who could carve out a long-term future as a central defender, is also injured, Moyes has two young stand-ins to choose from in Shane Duffy and Shkodran Mustafi. But he is likely to employ the experience of Tony Hibbert as a centre-half; a role the full-back filled successfully in the 2-1 win over Borisov in Minsk.

* Artur Boruc could be recalled to the Celtic squad for their Group C game against Hapoel Tel Aviv tonight. Tony Mowbray is awaiting permission from Uefa today to bring back the fit-again Poland goalkeeper.

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