DAVID MOYES is backing “hungry” new boy Jermaine Beckford to help Everton get their campaign off to a flying start.
The Blues striker, who signed on a free transfer from Leeds this summer, is set to make his competitive debut for the club in this afternoon’s Premier League opener at Blackburn.
Beckford is expected to start on the bench with Louis Saha as a lone frontman, but after seeing the 26-year-old find the net three times in pre-season Moyes has been impressed.
“It’s a massive jump for Jermaine but he has settled in well,” Moyes said. “We’re giving him the chance to see how he does in the Premier League and one thing he can definitely do is score goals.
“If we give him the right supply I don’t think that will change.
“What will be different for him is other parts of his game which will be required in the Premier League. Can he link us up, hold the ball up and help us out in other situations?
“Jermaine has terrific movement in and around the box. He offers us something different. He is a hungry player.
“He has come from non-league to Leeds. You hope he retains that hunger and remembers where he was not too long ago and how far he has come. I hope he shows that in his performances.”
Moyes is in confident mood ahead of the trip to Ewood Park. It’s the start of his ninth full season with the Blues and he’s looking to secure an opening day win for only the third time during his tenure.
“I’m really happy with the squad and it’s great I am not talking about a lot of injuries,” he said.
“It’s been a pretty good summer. I’ve got lots of players who want to play and some who are more prepared than others.
“It’s important we get off to a good start. Blackburn had a great home record last season and we were one of only three teams to win there. Sam Allardyce’s teams are always hard to play against and it will be tough for us.”
Tim Cahill is a fitness doubt due to a knee injury, while Moyes must decide whether to draft in John Heitinga. The Holland defender has played no part in the friendlies due to his extended break following the World Cup final.
“Tim has a bit of patella tendonitis in his knee and we will see how he is on Saturday,” Moyes added. “He has some fluid at the front of his knee. We have to hope it’s something that isn’t going to get worse.
“We’ve got one or two with knocks and bruises but nearly all the midweek internationals seemed to be strolls with nothing that competitive. The big problem is some of the journeys they have had to make.
“John Heitinga will travel in the squad and I’ve got a few decisions to make.”
Meanwhile, Moyes revealed the bid Everton rejected from West Ham for Yakubu this week was only £5million.
The Hammers were expected to come back in with an offer of £7.5million for the Nigerian but bizarrely offered less than the £6million that was turned down last month.
Moyes has no desire to offload the striker and insisted: “Yak’s record in the Premier League is as good as anyone’s and while he’s still here I will certainly use him.”
l Steven Gerrard has revealed he would “love” Everton counterpart Mikel Arteta to come into the England fold.
Arteta, who is from the Basque Country and is Spanish by nationality, has never been capped by the reigning European and world champions.
He qualifies for England through the residency rule like his compatriot Manuel Almunia, the Arsenal goalkeeper.
And Liverpool skipper Gerrard admits he would welcome his Merseyside rival into the England camp.
He said: “I’d certainly love nothing better than to see Mikel Arteta available for England.
“You want to play with the best players, and if it makes the England squad better, of course I’d like to see it.”