PHIL NEVILLE hopes Everton can take advantage if Manchester City allow their looming Wembley trip to distract them tomorrow.
The two teams clash at Goodison with David Moyes’ men looking to continue their hoodoo over their Eastlands rivals.
Everton have won six of their last seven games against City, including a 2-1 away win played in December.
While the Goodison outfit are aiming to strengthen their grip on seventh place, their visitors know victory could be enough to seal a first-ever Champions League qualification.
But with City facing Stoke City in the FA Cup final the following Saturday, Everton skipper Neville is hopeful Everton can take advantage of such a distraction.
“Champions League football is massive and when you are trying to get to the very top the best way to do it is in small steps rather than giant leaps,” said Neville.
“They seem to be making small steps at the moment, last year Europa League – this year Champions League and if they win a trophy that will spur them on.
“People go on about their finances but I don’t. They’ve got quality players and a manager that knows how to bring success.
“We just hope that they’ve got one eye on the Cup final because they are a team full of world-class players and we’ll have to be at our best and more to get a result.”
Neville has also warned Everton must be on their guard against controversial City striker Mario Balotelli, who has created headlines not always for the right reasons since arriving from Inter Milan last summer.
“He’s a nightmare to play against because more than anything he’s got undoubted ability and when someone has got that ability you’ve got to pay them the respect they deserve,” said Neville.
“People forget he’s a young player, and when you’re young you do things that are wrong as well as right – that’s just the fabric of young players.
“We’ve got two young players – Jack Rodwell and Seamus Coleman – and you don’t quite get the consistency you do at that age as you do at 24 or 25.
“But I’ve watched him (Balotelli) play in the last few weeks and I think he’s been outstanding.
“Forget the rubbish that goes along with him – he’s a quality player.”