Moyes backing for ‘terrific’ Hibbert

Everton defender Tony Hibbert has received the backing of David Moyes as he prepares to turn out as an emergency centre-back against Tottenham.

The 28-year-old full-back has been pressed into service in the middle on a couple of occasions, most recently in the midweek Europa League victory over AEK Athens.

But with the Toffees‘ injury crisis worsening by the week Hibbert is likely to be employed in that role for the visit of Harry Redknapp’s side on Sunday.

Hibbert will give away 11 inches in height to striker Peter Crouch, if he plays, but Moyes has no doubts the former academy graduate will give his all.

“Tony Hibbert has been terrific. He has come through the ranks and has been here ever since I arrived, it must be 10 years,” said the Toffees boss.

“He has a big heart. Yes, there are bits we know he can do better but he never sets out to let us down that is for sure.”

Who will partner Hibbert in the centre remains to be seen as Sylvain Distin is out with a hamstring injury and Joseph Yobo is doubtful with a similar problem.

Jack Rodwell is carrying a niggling groin problem, Phil Jagielka and Phil Neville are long-term absentees with knee injuries, and Johnny Heitinga is suspended.

That leaves Moyes probably with a choice between another full-back, Australia captain Lucas Neill, or rookie centre-half Shane Duffy, 17, who made his first-team debut in Athens.

Neill is fully prepared for the test ahead.

“We are going to have to be at our best or near our best and there is a natural attitude to raise you game against better teams,” he said.

“It is the perfect team for us as it is a team which has dreams of finishing in the dizzy heights; similar in mental attitude to Everton.

“This is a perfect springboard for us to win n and move into the Christmas period.”

Neill is aware of the firepower Spurs have at their disposal after their 9-1 demolition of Wigan a fortnight ago but stressed that result would never happen again.

“I don’t think there is a player at Everton that would allow a scoreline like that simply from pride,” he added.