Moyes inspires Lescott to show leadership qualities

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The Independent Football

For David Moyes, a trophy to enjoy at last. "At least somebody's brought some silverware back to Goodison," he said, reflecting on Amy Kane's goal that secured the Women's Premier League Cup at Arsenal's expense on Thursday night. Now for his own side's final push towards a Champions League place, the prospects of which will look brighter if Everton can overcome Portsmouth, six points and three places behind them, tomorrow.

Moyes is not a man to let his players stand still, which is why he is waiting on the next stage in the development of Joleon Lescott, arguably Everton's best player this season despite being often asked to leave his favoured centre-back slot for left back, but one whom Moyes suggests needs to have a fuller sense of his own worth and to assume the kind of leader's role filled by John Terry at Stamford Bridge and by Rio Ferdinand at Old Trafford.

"The next stage for Joleon is to become a leader," Moyes explained. "[He must become] someone who kicks on and commands respect. He needs to take hold and realise that he is a Premier League defender."

There was no criticism implicit in this critique from Moyes, who implied earlier this week that some have not given Lescott credit for how far he has advanced with Everton after seven years with Wolverhampton Wanderers. But Moyes has taken particular pride in the player's development under his tutelage, clearly sees him as a club captain of the future, and the step-change he speaks of may be necessary if Lescott is to reclaim the England spot he lost against Switzerland.

A player who appears already to have responded to the demanding side of his manager's nature is the Pompey old boy, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, who, since incurring the manager's wrath over his non-appearance after Africa Nations Cup duty, has scored four goals in three matches. "He was very remorseful when he was late back," Moyes said. "In any organisation, you need to turn up for work at the right time."

Though Yakubu is clearly forgiven, Moyes's analysis of the player's contribution yesterday revealed some of the shrewd man-management that has brought out a consistency Yakubu did not display at Portmouth and Middlesbrough – and which involves not letting him get too carried away with himself. "He has come back into a side which is performing well," Moyes said. "We didn't lose while he was away."

Though David James's form has been the talking point as far as Portsmouth are concerned, his opposite number at Goodison Park tomorrow, Tim Howard, will be two games away from Neville Southall's 13-year record of 15 clean sheets in a season if he keeps another one.

Mikel Arteta is a serious doubt for the game with a groin problem that has persisted for weeks but, with so many in-form players available, Moyes, whose team have not lost to one outside the so-called "big four" since October, still has grounds for confidence.

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