Everton FC must cope without Kevin Mirallas again today as they bid to stay in mix for Champions League
by Greg O'Keeffe
EVERTON must cope without the attacking prowess of Kevin Mirallas again today, as they bid to stay in the mix for Champions League qualification.
The exciting Belgian forward scored his only goal in the Premier League so far against this afternoon's opponents, Swansea, at the Liberty Stadium in September, but has been unable to recover from a hamstring problem in time to face Michael Laudrup's side in the return fixture at Goodison.
David Moyes knows the 25-year-old will be vital to his chances of overtaking Chelsea, who are currently in fourth place and two points ahead of the Blues, but is prepared to remain patient as he bids to coax his £5.5m summer signing from Olympiacos back to full fitness.
While Mirallas has missed Everton's last six games, he is showing signs of progress in treatment, and the Blues will at least be able to call upon Leighton Baines against Swansea, with the England left-back likely to shake off an ankle injury he has carried in recent weeks.
Moyes is also quietly confident that Marouane Fellaini, who hit headlines in the week after it emerged that he has a buy-out clause in his contract, will stay at Goodison in January.
The Everton boss responded to speculation about Fellaini by reiterating he is not looking to sell players in the current transfer window.
Everton are understood to have had no inquiries about their inspirational midfielder from other clubs so far, and Moyes said: "The plan is to keep all of our players.
"I wouldn't be talking about anyone's contracts if I can help it, and I won't do it now."
Regarding potential incoming personnel, Moyes added: "We are trying - we will look around and see what we will get."
As exclusively revealed in yesterday's ECHO, one midfielder who is certainly remaining with Everton for the time being is Thomas Hitzlsperger.
Hitzlsperger, 30, having been a free agent since leaving Wolfsburg last summer, signed a short-term contract with the Toffees in October that saw him through to this month.
The former Aston Villa, West Ham and Germany player has made seven appearances for Everton so far and Moyes added: "We have decided Thomas is going to stay until the end of the season.
"He has played a few games for us now, and he has been around the block a few times.
"He knows what is required."