Everton confidence improving after unbeaten run

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The Independent Football

Everton defender Leighton Baines believes the momentum they have gained from a five-match unbeaten run sets them up well for their biggest test of the season so far at Manchester City this weekend.

The Toffees left it late to come from behind last night to clinch a 2-1 extra-time victory over West Brom in the third round of the Carling Cup.

Their only blemish so far is the opening-day home defeat to newcomers QPR, but even that has been forgotten after four wins and a draw in all competitions.

Everton have become City's bogey team over the last few years, winning seven of the last eight encounters and the last four in succession.

But, while confidence is growing within David Moyes' squad, the match at the Etihad Stadium marks the start of arguably their toughest month with fixtures against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United to follow in October.

"It is a big game for us at the weekend because City have been doing well but we will take confidence from the results we have had against them in the past," said Baines.

"We will draw on that. We have a tough run of games over the next few weeks so it was important we kept our momentum going (with the win over West Brom).

"We are fully aware that we treat every game individually so we won't take anything for granted.

"We will use those past games against City for confidence but we have to go there and get whatever we get."

Everton sit seventh in the table, three points off third having played one match fewer.

The loss to QPR was a huge missed opportunity but Baines said it had to be confined to history.

"We still look at the QPR defeat and think 'What if?' but we don't want to torture ourselves too much by doing that," added the left-back.

"We just want to have a good few weeks with a tough run of games and come out the back end of it in a good position."

Playing 120 minutes in a midweek Carling Cup tie prior to an early kick-off away on Saturday would not have been the choice of Moyes, although he did rest a number of his big-name players until well into the second half.

But Baines insisted they could not use it as an excuse.

"Extra time is probably not the ideal preparation but, once you get your recovery done and your mentality for the game right, it is surprising how quickly you can recover," said the England international.

"I don't think we can have it lingering over us or have it as any kind of excuse because we still have to do a job.

"I thought we looked quite fit and we were the ones pushing for the goals late in the game last night.

"We have a decent squad with good players so the manager has the option to freshen things up."

West Brom boss Roy Hodgson will be doing exactly that at home to former club Fulham on Saturday.

Having made nine changes, including bringing in a host of youngsters, he was not too downhearted to have exited the Carling Cup.

He did, however, feel it was useful for a number of fringe players and had helped strengthen his options.

"We believe in George Thorne, young Billy Jones, Joe Mattock - players who were playing their first serious games for the club during my time," said Hodgson.

"All three of them came out of it with flying colours, as did people like Gareth McAuley, Somen Tchoyi, Simon Cox and Marton Fulop - people who have played hardly any part at all in our matches."

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