Everton boss David Moyes is set to be thwarted in his attempts to extend the loan spell of Landon Donovan at Goodison Park.
The United States captain has made a huge impact since joining the Merseyside club on a short-term deal in January, and Moyes revealed on Friday he had explored the possibility of a renewed loan deal.
Donovan is due to return to parent club Los Angeles Galaxy, where he recently signed a new contract, to prepare for the new Major League Soccer season later this month.
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Moyes has previously stated any extension to the 10-week loan would be unlikely, and Galaxy coach Bruce Arena underlined that position this evening. "We’re not interested," Arena said in quotes reported on the official Major League Soccer website, www.mlsnet.com.
"Landon will be back here March 15. We’re being consistent with everything we’ve said all along."
That is not the end of the matter, though, with Arena revealing Everton’s bid to retain Donovan may yet succeed as a result of threatened industrial action in the MLS.
The American league is currently in talks with its players’ union regarding a new labour agreement but, with doubts persisting over the progress of those discussions, there is a chance the start of the new season could be delayed.
The Galaxy are due to begin the new campaign against New England on March 27, but that may be put on hold if no deal is reached, with fresh talks planned for next week.
"Obviously the collective bargaining could change that," Arena said. "If we didn’t have a league going on, we would certainly entertain the idea of allowing Landon to stay there.
"If we have a league, Landon’s going to be playing for the Galaxy."
Donovan’s move to Everton, which has coincided with an upturn in the team’s form, has benefited both club and player.
The 27-year-old has sharpened his game in the Barclays Premier League in a World Cup year while Moyes has found him a good quality short-term solution to some of his squad’s injury problems.
The midfielder has added an extra dimension on the right side of Everton’s attack and Moyes views the move as a complete success.
The only low point was a bad miss from in front of goal in last week’s defeat at Tottenham. Moyes said: "In the main he has done a really good job for us.
"It is very rare you can bring in someone in January on loan who can make a real difference to you but Landon has.
"He came in when the team was on the up, so that has suited him, but we cannot deny he has done well.
"Landon had to be thrown straight in so we had to find out very quickly if he could do a job or not.
"But I think his manager at LA Galaxy would say the best World Cup preparation for him would be to start in their team.
"They will be keen to get him back so we will have to be respectful of their wishes.
"If we can keep him it would be nice, but if not I totally understand it."
If no new agreement is forthcoming, Sunday’s clash with struggling Hull will be Donovan’s last at Goodison Park.
Moyes is hoping he can be joined in the team by midfield talisman Tim Cahill, who is battling to overcome a calf injury.
The Australian was initially ruled out for up to three weeks after limping out of the first leg of the Europa League tie against Sporting Lisbon 17 days ago.
"He is getting closer," Moyes said.
"He has not trained yet but there is a chance he might train tomorrow. If he does, that would give him a chance."
Top scorer Louis Saha, however, is still missing with the hamstring injury that kept him out of the trip to Tottenham.
Phil Jagielka, recently returned from a long-term knee injury, could be doubtful with a thigh strain, as could Leon Osman with a foot problem.
Moyes added: "We hope to have roughly the same players we had last week.
"In the main, I hope the majority of them will make it."
All of Everton’s international players returned from midweek duty unscathed and Moyes was particularly pleased to see left-back Leighton Baines make his England debut on Wednesday.
The Scot said: "He has deserved it, he has played consistently well for Everton.
"It took him a little while to get started in the side but he was patient and got through, and is now showing his worth."