DAVID Moyes has warned Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin not to become complacent – as John Heitinga is breathing down their necks for a starting role.
The Everton boss was impressed with Heitinga’s performance in the mid-week Carling Cup win over West Brom, and says the Holland international is in the reckoning for a first-choice place in his defence.
Moyes, who has already dropped club captain Phil Neville this season, will not allow any of his squad to believe they are indispensable, and he knows only their best will be good enough against Manchester City at the Etihad today.
He said: “It’s not a case of only Sylvain and Jags for the Premier League. It’s for whoever is going to play – it’s two from three.
“Johnny played very well on Wednesday. If they don’t keep their standards up I’ve got no problem changing it around, and he is right in the mix.
“He offers us intelligence, understanding, reading of the game, a good user of the ball.
“If anyone is reading into it that it’s just a set pair, they’re wrong. Johnny gives us good use of the ball and he’s playing for the second best team in the world as a centre half so we’re not daft. If the two don’t measure up to it, I’ll change it.”
Moyes is also expected to bring striker Louis Saha back into the squad after omitting him for the last two games.
But the Frenchman is likely to have to be content with a place on the bench as Moyes tries to extend his winning record against the Citizens.
“He’s had another week’s training and we’ll see how it goes from there,” said Moyes. “It’s a week after and we’re still taking about it because somebody put something out on a Twitter site, which I think is a ridiculous really.
“We discussed it (Twitter usage) at the start of the season so the players are aware of it.”
Meanwhile, Tim Howard has backed Tim Cahill to continue his scoring form against the blue half of Manchester, after the Aussie scored in the last three visits.
He said: “He takes the fight to them and they know that going into it. Tim relishes those opportunities to get stuck in, put himself about and really pester the opposition.
“Manchester City will be a difficult task. But we need to go there and dig in and be resilient – it has worked for us in the past.
“(Last year) you could see the elation on all of the players’ faces. It was such a cold night and our fans were out in their thousands and that win really galvanised the club.
“I think the players and fans really embraced that win and it showed that it is not all about money, it is about performances and spirit. We talked about having spirit but we proved it that night.”
Howard was yesterday joined by another US goalkeeper at Goodison, as 39-year-old former Wolves stopper Marcus Hahnemann joined until January to provide extra cover.
Hahnemann said: “I’m excited to finally belong somewhere again and it’s going to be great. To be with Tim again will be good because we get along well and I think we make a good partnership.
“I love the stadium and there’s such a great atmosphere. It was always a dream of mine to play in the Premier League and the first match I can remember watching was a Cup final with Neville Southall and Bruce Grobbelaar.”