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Oct 28, 2012

Neville: We must keep cool in derby

Phil Neville has warned his Everton team-mates that they must keep their composure if they are to come out on top in Sunday's Merseyside derby.

• Preview: Everton v Liverpool
• Rodgers predicts firecracker derby
• Moyes: Diving players deter fans

The fixture has become notorious for disciplinary flare-ups, producing 20 red cards in the last 15 years.

Neville knows only too well how easily the passions can boil over, having been sent off twice against Liverpool since joining Everton from Manchester United in 2005.

The 35-year-old has been asked by manager David Moyes to lead by example against their neighbours at Goodison Park, and key to that will be ensuring that his team finish the match with 11 players on the pitch.

Moyes has won only four of his 23 league and cup matches against Liverpool in a decade at Goodison, and has seen 10 Everton players sent off in the fixture. His side have finished three of those games with nine men.

Neville knows that it will be difficult to keep calm and carry on when the tackles start flying in, but will do his utmost to help his team-mates resist the temptation to lose their cool.

"You sometimes get these messages on the dressing-room wall and one of them is, 'the most important thing today is to keep 11 men on the field'," Neville told the Mail on Sunday.

"You think to yourself, what a stupid thing that is to say. But it is true. Discipline is key. I've been sent off twice in derby games so I've suffered that. It's funny how you go over that white line and the message on the wall just vanishes!

"You can drum things into players all you want, but when something happens on the pitch. It's like the blue touchpaper being lit. You just get carried along by all the emotions and it's win at all costs.

"I can't have any complaints about my red cards against Liverpool. The first was for two stupid tackles, the second I made a great save on the line from Lucas!"

Everton go into the derby lying fifth in the Premier League, six points and eight places above a Liverpool side still finding their feet under new manager Brendan Rodgers.

"We probably shade it in terms of experience now," Neville said. "Liverpool are coming into a derby with a new manager, building a new journey, whereas our development has probably been more consistent.

"This is a time when our team are at their peak and we have to produce. There are no excuses for us. It's now or never if we want success."

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