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Sep 28, 2012

Phil Neville:Everton's versatility is vital

Phil Neville believes Everton's tactical flexibility is the key to them remaining in the Premier League's top four.

David Moyes' side are third in the table after taking 10 points from their opening five matches, and are well placed to make a serious challenge for European qualification.

Neville suggests Everton's success is built on an ability to adapt their game and surprise their opponents.

Moyes has a number of players who can operate in different positions, such as Marouane Fellaini, who can work as a main striker or an attacking midfielder. And Neville, who has played at right-back and in central midfield for the Toffees this season, believes that kind of flexibility is vital.

He told the club's official website: "Sometimes you can play a certain way for one or two weeks and then you've got to find another way of playing to combat what other teams are doing against you.

"We've got great flexibility within the squad. Fellaini, for example, can play up front, he can drop and play in the holding position.

"We've got players that can rotate in different positions, and that makes it harder for the opposition - we'll probably have to do that in the coming weeks."

Neville has warned star performers such as Fellaini, Leighton Baines, Kevin Mirallas and Steven Pienaar to expect extra attention from opponents after their impressive starts to the campaign.

He said: "I think with the performances, the headlines and the glory comes a bit of added attention from defenders.

"That's what we'd do if we were playing against these types of players - we'd do our homework, we'd look at trying to nullify their strengths and capitalise on their weaknesses, so that's something we're all guarding against."

Everton face promoted Southampton at Goodison Park on Saturday, then travel to Wigan on October 6 before the next international break kicks in.

Neville feels that if Everton are still in the top four after those two matches, a serious tilt at finishing in the top four and qualifying for the Champions League is a possibility.

"We've got two games now before the international break and our aim is to be in the same position," he added. "It's normally after this international break that the league starts to take shape. Teams drop into position, and we want to make sure we're up in that top four."

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