Sylvain Distin maintains injury-hit Everton can do little else but battle on after finally recording a first Premier League victory in five attempts at West Ham. Everton secured a morale-boosting win with goals from Louis Saha and teenager Dan Gosling, but had to endure some late pressure from the Hammers following an own goal from Tony Hibbert.
David Moyes praised the resilience of his team, which had to do without suspended Russian winger Diniyar Bilyaletdinov to add to the long list of unavailable players. Phil Neville, Mikel Arteta, Steven Pienaar, Victor Anichebe, James Vaughan, Leon Osman and Phil Jagielka – who has undergone a second knee operation – are all on the sidelines.
Moyes admits the selection problems have forced him to rely more on the likes of Gosling and fellow youngster Jack Rodwell. Centre-back Distin understands the situation is difficult, but backed the squad to battle through.
"We can complain, but it does not get us more points or get us anywhere," he said. "We have got a lot of injuries, but there is nothing we can do about it. We will use the players we have got and hopefully we will get some of those players back. But we will do with what we have and we do have enough quality to play better than we have so far."
Everton's last league win had come back at the end of September – a poor run of form which saw the Toffees, who have also struggled in Europe, slip down the table. Distin accepts that had perhaps been in the back of the players' minds. "We have had seven games without a win and so even if you pretend not to think about it, you do," he said. "Maybe you are not as positive and comfortable as you should be. But at the moment, it does not matter if we're playing home or away – it is just about the three points."
French striker Saha shrugged off a calf problem to start at Upton Park, although he was substituted during the second half as a precaution. He said he wanted to make an impact for the team, even if not 100 per cent match fit. "I did not expect to play, but I was ready to give my best so that's what I tried and it worked fine," he said. "It is just good for me to concentrate on my opportunities and I am very conscious to work with the team. The work rate of the team is unbelievable."
Moyes has little option but to continue to call on his youngsters when the Premier League action resumes with the small matter of a trip to Manchester United on 21 November.
But he would rather have been able to do so at a more suitable time. "It is not just one game, we have had to do that in three or four games. It is a lot to ask of the young players," Moyes said. "Jack has played an awful lot of football and while Dan is no doubt delighted to be playing, there are right moments when you should be playing youngsters and maybe we are having to play them at the wrong moments.
"On the evidence at West Ham, you'd have to say both are mature players, and that can make them better and stronger. Then you can look at them not as young players, but players. However, we don't have enough in the team at the moment to help them as much as we should."