Here were two managers and two sets of supporters who could be forgiven for casting a glance towards next season, but for Everton full-back Phil Neville there is a more short-term target. Injury to Wes Brown may have opened the England door for the utility man who has been impressive in an extended run at right-back although others – not least brother Gary – are in the running to accompany incumbent Glen Johnson to South Africa.
"It's the first time I've had a sustained run at right-back in my Everton career," said Neville, who won the last of his 59 caps in October 2007. "I've been to three European Championships but always missed out on the World Cup. I'll fight tooth and nail for it."
Before injury sidelined him for the best part of 12 months, Neville's teammate Mikel Arteta was considered a good bet to make a concerted run at the Spain World Cup squad. But now, after claiming his third goal in six starts since his comeback, he is just relieved to be playing. He said: "I've got my rhythm back. I feel quicker and more confident." Arteta claimed the game's opening goal with a free-kick from the edge of the area after Alan Wiley had shown Gretar Steinsson a red card for a foul on Yakubu. A last-minute effort from Steven Pienaar completed a flattering win for a side that has recorded seven successive home wins in the League, their best run in 20 years.
So, after a season in which he has had to deal with a debilitating injury list, Everton manager David Moyes has something to look forward to. "We are starting to believe that we are a good team now," he said.
Everton (4-1-4-1): Howard; Neville, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Heitinga; Anichebe (Bilyaletdinov 14), Cahill (Saha 62), Arteta, Pienaar; Yakubu (Osman 76). Substutites not used: Nash (gk), Hibbert, Yobo, Rodwell.
Bolton (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen; Steinsson, O'Brien, Knight, Robinson; Chung-Yong, Cohen (Davies 83), Muamba, Wilshere (Taylor 81); Elmander (Ricketts 71), K Davies. Substitutes not used: Al Habsi (gk), Cahill, Riga, Weiss.
Referee: A Wiley (Staffs)
Booked: Everton: Cahill Bolton: Chung-Yong
Sent-off: Bolton: Steinsson
Man of the match: Arteta
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