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Ranking Africa's Premier League flops

By ESPN Staff

Moyes hoping Martyn can prove his fitness

Everton boss David Moyes will give veteran keeper Nigel Martyn every chance to prove his fitness before making a final decision on whether to offer him a new one-year contract.

Martyn has not played since January following a hairline fracture of his right ankle meaning Richard Wright will continue as stand-in against Birmingham having played the last seven matches.

But Moyes has made it clear he wants Martyn to stay on at Goodison Park next season as long as he can regain his fitness, and that specialist advice says the player will not have problems in the future by playing on with the Toffees.

The 39-year-old's right foot and ankle are in plaster - he also has wear and tear problems with his left ankle - and he is due to see a specialist next week for a further assessment.

Moyes said: 'I hope Nigel will come back. He sees a specialist in the middle of next week, his right foot and ankle are in plaster, and he has problems with the other ankle too.

'The decisions will be made once the specialist has had a good look at him, and then how Nigel sees his own future.

'All we can do is wait and see. We would want Nigel to stay here, but he will need the all-clear from the specialist and from his point of view he would want to make sure he was not going to damage himself in any way that would affect his future life.

'He has been great for us, we got him for virtually nothing and he has been a fantastic signing for us. That is why Richard Wright has had to play second fiddle because Nigel has done so well.'

Martyn's contract runs out in the summer, as do those of Duncan Ferguson, David Weir and Alan Stubbs while Matteo Ferrari's loan deal also ends.

Moyes has to make serious decisions about all of his 'veteran' players over the next few weeks, with the expected outcome being that Ferguson will leave the club and Weir too faces a worrying future.

The club's supporters' groups are eager to know whether Ferguson is to be released so they can mark what would be his last game against West Brom on the final day of the season, in an appropriate manner for a man who has attained legendary status at the club.

But for now, Moyes wants a positive end to the season after five games without a win and facing a Birmingham side desperate for the points as they fight relegation.

Moyes, who may have Mikel Arteta back from an ankle problem, said: 'This is a big game for Birmingham, but I also feel it is very important for us.

'We have had some disappointing results over the last few weeks and I want us to start winning again and to make sure we finish in the top half.

'It is important for this club. We have never had back to back top-half finishes since the Premier League started, and after finishing fourth last season it is vital that we again finish as high as we can and in the top 10.'

He added: 'Birmingham had a great win in midweek against Blackburn and we know this one will be tough for us because it means so much to Steve Bruce and his team. But that's good, I want us to be involved in something positive and not to think there's an easy ride now until the end.

'Birmingham will be desperate for the points and if our players do not respond to that we will end up disappointed again.

'It is better with games to have something riding on them, and that's certain for Birmingham and West Brom.'

He said: 'It's hard when you are down at the bottom, and it puts pressure on people. 'But I am glad that Birmingham have stuck behind Steve, he has done a great job there.'