Moyes hails 'exemplary' Neville

BY foxsports • March 19, 2010

David Moyes has hailed Phil Neville as a perfect professional on the eve of the former Manchester United star's 200th Everton appearance.

Neville won six Premier League titles at United but, after two frustrating seasons on the bench, ended an 18-year association with the club to move to Goodison Park in 2005.

The switch has proved a huge success with the 33-year-old shrugging off his past association with a fierce rival to become a vital member of Moyes' team and a much-respected captain.

Neville, whose versatility has seen him deployed in numerous defensive and midfield positions, will bring up a double century of Blues appearances in Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash against Bolton.

And manager Moyes said: "He has been exemplary since he has been here as a professional and as a player.

"Coming from Manchester United, a lot of people might have seen it as a step down but I think he saw it as a step up.

"He has grasped the opportunity, he has brought leadership and a winning mentality. He doesn't half take the ball and take responsibility. Even when it is not going right he still wants it, that is a great trait to have.

"He plays every game as if it is his last and is really disappointed when he is not winning or doing well.

"He has a lot of things that are difficult to teach people and the way he prepares himself for every game is a credit."

Neville will lead out an Everton side looking to maintain a late push for Europe by winning a seventh consecutive home league game on Saturday.

The Toffees, ninth in the table, have lost just two of their last 15 games, but squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at Birmingham last week.

Moyes said: "There is always something to play for. When I took over I used to think Everton would get themselves in a safe position by Easter and then knock off.

"That was my impression and we had to get that knocked out of them. The players can't afford to knock off or I will be on their case.

"They are playing well now and have been for the last two or three months. We have had the odd blip here and there but overall I have been really pleased with how they have done.

"But if we want to finish the season on a high we are going to have to continue winning at Goodison."

Bolton also need the points for a different reason as they look to put more distance between themselves and the bottom three.

After three wins from four games, Bolton are starting to settle under new manager Owen Coyle and are now eight points above the relegation zone.

Moyes added: "It is no surprise that Owen is doing well. It has taken him a month or two to get things going but I think in time he will turn Bolton around and get them to become the strong Premier League side they have been under Sam (Allardyce) and Gary Megson."

Everton welcome back top scorer Louis Saha after three games out with a hamstring injury, while midfielder Leon Osman is also available again after a groin problem.

Moyes is forced to make at least one change with USA captain Landon Donovan having returned to Los Angeles Galaxy after a highly successful 10-week loan.

Moyes had wanted to keep the 28-year-old but had no problem with Galaxy insisting he went back for the start of the Major League Soccer season.

The players in MLS, however, are currently engaged in an industrial dispute with their governing body which could lead to strike action.

Should that happen, Donovan may yet be back at Everton before the end of the season.

Moyes said: "There is a sort of acceptance where, if this happens, he would consider coming back over.

"Landon seemed to think LA Galaxy wouldn't be against it if that is the case and we would be all for it so we'll wait and see."

Whether or not Donovan returns this term, Moyes still intends to make further enquiries for the American in future.

"There might be something somewhere down the line," Moyes said.

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