Everton are looking to build on successfully securing a place in the FA Cup quarter finals by reviving their faltering challenge for a top four place. The Toffees have taken only one point from their last three league games to leave them in sixth place, seven points off fourth-placed Chelsea and worryingly, only two and three points ahead of West Brom and Liverpool respectively.
Questions have been raised over David Moyes’ decision to prioritise the FA Cup in recent weeks over his side’s quest for the Champions League given the paucity of numbers available to him squad-wise, but the Scot would perhaps argue that against the likes of Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal, putting all Everton’s eggs in the race for the top four would have been impractical ahead of a possible first trophy of his 11 year-reign at Goodison Park.
Moyes hopes to welcome back key midfielder Marouane Fellaini for the visit of Reading, after the Belgian missed the FA Cup win over Oldham with a knee injury. Striker Victor Anichebe is also fit again to take his place, though he must compete with the fit-again Kevin Mirallas and the out-of-form Nikica Jelavic.
Reading will be keen to put their 3-0 hammering at home to relegation rivals Wigan last week behind them and recapture the form that saw them only lose once in seven league games before losing at Stoke in early February. Brian McDermott’s men will certainly need to, as they currently sit second-bottom with 11 games to go, albeit only one point off safety.
McDermott will be without first-choice striker Pavel Pogrebnyak after the Russian was sent off against Wigan and with Jason Roberts injured that means a start for either Nick Blackman or perennial “super-sub” Adam Le Fondre.
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