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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

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Moyes: Top-four hopes are fading

David Moyes has admitted that Everton are under strength in the countdown to the transfer window and is unsure whether they are capable of a top-four finish.

• Blog: Toffees must toughen up

Moyes was disappointed with his side's performance in the draw at Stoke and believes his squad are in urgent need of more options in attack.

"We know that we have not got the strongest squad," he said. "We are certainly short. We don't have an awful lot.

"With Kevin Mirallas out and Victor Anichebe, we were very limited. We couldn't change the forward players really. We have got young players and brought on Ross Barkley. But we have not got enough in the forward areas at the moment. We missed Kevin Mirallas, who gives us something else."

With so many teams in the mix for Champions League qualification, Moyes was asked whether the January window was going to be more important, especially as he can now expect to be without Marouane Fellaini for several games.

"That's probably you journalists trying to find out if we are going to be busy or not," he said. "I couldn't tell you.

"Look, we'll do everything we can to finish in the top four. I don't know, when it comes to it, if we will actually have enough. I couldn't be sure if we will.

"But I am not going to talk us down. We are up there because we have played well at the start of the season. Realistically, will it happen? I don't know. But I want us to try and keep pushing and pushing and try to get a position in European football if we can next year.

"I think the middle pack is quite strong. I don't think it would take too much for a team to win three games in a row to be right in the mix. I don't know if we will be there but I know that the competition is quite hot, that's for sure."

Moyes, who refused to answer further questions about Fellaini after quickly admitting the Belgian deserved to be punished for his head-butt on Ryan Shawcross, found himself unusually blaming Tim Howard on the occasion of the keeper's 200th successive appearance in the Premier League.

But he believes more praise is due to his side's latest opponents, who are now unbeaten in seven matches.

"I'm just disappointed that Tim didn't save their goal," Moyes said. "He's such a good goalkeeper and I would have expected him to save it. It was like he never really went with his hands.

"It was really strange. His centre-half has done enough to stop it from being a powerful header but it was enough to go in.

"He has been excellent for us. He is not somebody we would in any way want to criticise. But he would admit that he would have been expected to save it.

"I think all teams will find it difficult against Stoke. They are very strong, they are powerful and they are a good team. They need more credit. There was never only one way for football to be played.

"Stoke weren't going to give up with their record. We needed to play better. We gave them encouragement at the start of the second half. We gave away two or three quite quick free-kicks, which they got in our box, and it wasn't long after that when they scored their goal.

"I think Stoke will be closer than maybe people give them credit for. I think they could be there because they are not going to lose too many games at home and they are going to be very hard to beat away because they are strong defensively.

"I actually didn't think we played as well as I wanted us to play. We never really got into a rhythm. There were bits but not enough. We got the goal up but we should have gone in 2-0 up and, because we didn't, it was always going to be tight."

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