Cahill vows to stick by Lescott

But Ever­ton fans may not be so kind

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FOOTBALL -

EVER­TON mid­fielder Tim Cahill be­lieves Joleon Lescott (pic­tured) will be able to ig­nore the storm sur­round­ing his prospec­tive move to Manch­ester City if he plays in to­day’s Premier League clash against Arse­nal.

Lescott stunned Ever­ton man­ager David Moyes ear­lier this week when he handed in a writ­ten trans­fer re­quest at Good­i­son Park in an at­tempt to pro­voke a move to City, who have al­ready had two bids for the Eng­land de­fender re­jected by the Toffees.

The for­mer Wolver­hamp­ton cen­tre­back re­mains a pri­or­ity tar­get for City boss Mark Hughes and has been of­fered the chance to triple his wages at East­lands.

Ever­ton fans may not take a sym­pa­thetic view of Lescott’s trans­fer re­quest but Moyes has spo­ken to the player at length about his state of mind and is con­fi­dent he will re­main pro­fes­sional amid the furore, de­spite con­cerns about the re­cep­tion he will re­ceive from home sup­port­ers.

Moyes is not about to fur­ther weaken a de­fence al­ready without Phil Jagielka and Aus­tralia star Cahill is con­vinced Lescott has the strength of char­ac­ter to cope.

Cahill be­lieves Lescott will not be dis­tracted and said: “It’s a Catch-22 for the lad. Some­times there are once-in-al­ife­time bids and it’s astro­nom­i­cal money.

“But he is such a great pro­fes­sional and I know at the week­end he will give ev­ery­thing. It’s very hard for foot­ballers th­ese days to be put in such a dif­fi­cult po­si­tion.

“He’s a big player for Ever­ton and Eng­land. If he goes, he goes, if he stays, he stays. But what­ever de­ci­sion he makes, I’ll sup­port him.”

Mean­while, Thomas Ver mae­len in­tends to stay one step ahead of the game at the heart of the Arse­nal de­fence this sea­son.

The Bel­gian cen­tre-back, man­ager Arsene Wenger’s only sign­ing so far, is hope­ful of re­cov­er­ing from a groin prob­lem to make his full de­but at Good­i­son Park and shore up a de­fence bru­tally ex­posed last sea­son and now miss­ing Kolo Toure.

The for­mer Ajax player said: “I will al­ways give 100 per­cent. I have a good men­tal­ity. I want to do my best for Arse­nal, play­ing as well as I pos­si­bly can.

“I think I am de­cent in the air and tech­ni­cally and I al­ways want to bat­tle on the pitch. You do need a lit­tle time to adapt and we will see how fast it goes, but I want to adapt as quickly as pos­si­ble at Arse­nal and play as many games as I can.”

Wenger’s main fo­cus will be on how many of his in­ter­na­tion­als re­turn fit from their mid­week games.

To­mas Rosicky (ham­string) and Samir Nasri (bro­ken leg) have both al­ready been ruled out for the open­ing few weeks of the sea­son, while Ed­uardo, Robin van Per­sie, Theo Wal­cott, An­drey Ar­shavin, Em­manuel Eboue and Car­los Vela all rep­re­sented their coun­tries. – Sapa-AFP

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