Neville stirs troops after Arteta blow

The Everton captain Phil Neville has told his team-mates they must not allow the loss of playmaker Mikel Arteta to distract them. The Spanish midfielder was ruled out on Monday for at least six months with a ruptured cruciate ligament in his right knee.

Arteta has provided much of Everton's creativity and will be sorely missed as the Toffees seek to overturn the four-point deficit between themselves and fifth-placed Arsenal in the Premier League and progress beyond the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

However, Neville has urged the rest of the squad to step up a gear to compensate for the midfielder's absence. "It's a massive blow for us because any team would miss a player of Mikel's quality," said Neville.

"The lads are absolutely gutted for him but these things happen in football and we will just have to get on with it. He's already contributed a lot to what could be a very good season for us and we will be doing our utmost to make sure we keep things going.

"We have an awful lot to play for and there's nothing to be gained by feeling sorry for ourselves. We have some big games coming up now and it's up to each and every member of the squad to rise to the occasion and make sure the momentum we've got isn't lost.

"There is certainly enough quality here to cope in Mikel's absence but his loss is undoubtedly a bit of a setback." Injuries have been a consistent problem for Everton this season with striker Yakubu ruled out for the rest of the campaign with an Achilles injury while James Vaughan and Nuno Valente (both knee problems) are also sidelined for the long-term.

Midfielders Leon Osman (stomach) and Steven Pienaar (hamstring) could return this weekend while Louis Saha made his comeback from a hamstring problem in Sunday's goalless draw at Newcastle.

Neville believes his former Manchester United team-mate can provide the squad with a necessary boost after the disappointment of losing Arteta. "It's his turn to deliver. We're all rooting for him," added Neville. "He's shown glimpses so far this season and with 12 games to go it's time for Louis to join in with the form that we are showing. We will need him over the last couple of months of the season."

Scans have revealed Saha's fellow forward Victor Anichebe has strained ligaments in his right knee but it may be some days before the extent of the problem is known.

The 20-year-old was injured by a horror tackle from Newcastle's Kevin Nolan which saw the midfielder shown a straight red card at St James' Park.

"Victor has got very bad bruising on his shin and on the outside of his ankle but we're not overly concerned about that," head physio Mick Rathbone told the official Everton website.

"However, he has had a series of scans and he appears to have strained ligaments on the outside of his right knee. He is very sore indeed and we need to take a few days to let the area settle down before we can properly make an accurate clinical evaluation."

Speaking about Arteta's impending operation, Rathbone added: "We use three surgeons – the best in Britain, the best in Europe and the best in America. Clearly it suits Mikel to use the Spanish guy and he is very happy with the choice. We're looking at him being out for about six months. We don't want to hurry Mikel.

"We weren't actually waiting on the scan because we knew instantly what he had done," added Rathbone. "I said to the doctor straight away, 'That's a cruciate [injury]'.

"When he came off the pitch I spoke to Mikel and said: 'Sorry mate, but this is a bad injury', but he knew anyway. He's not daft, he's a very smart guy

"Mikel's very down, but he's a mature guy, he's a top sportsman and he knows that one of the hazards of being a top-class sportsman is that you get injured.

"He is somewhat philosophical and is already talking about getting back playing next season.

"So we don't wallow in it, it's football, it happens. We just need to get it operated on and get him back."

Meanwhile, Everton have confirmed their Premier League match against Stoke has moved back to its original date of 14 March.

The Saturday 3pm kick-off had originally been put back 24 hours after club officials were told by Merseyside Police to move it because a British National Party rally was scheduled to take place in Liverpool city centre on the same date.

The police had claimed "operational reasons" meant the two events could not take place at the same time and Everton made efforts to move the game with Stoke.

However, the BNP has decided not to stage the demonstration, leaving the way clear for Everton to entertain Stoke on the original date of the fixture.

Merseyside Police have now granted permission for Everton to host the game on the Saturday.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam