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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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By ESPN Staff

Cahill set to hand Everton timely fitness boost

Tim Cahill is expected to be back in tow for Everton as they prepare for Sunday's Premiership clash with Reading at Goodison Park.

The Australian midfielder will provide added punch to a Blues side set to be watched by Hollywood film star Sylvester Stallone, who will be the special guest of major shareholder Robert Earl.

But Everton will be more interested in the appearance of Cahill, who has been out for two months with a serious knee injury.

David Moyes' side have suffered during his absence, winning only four of 11 games and going out of the FA Cup following their third-round defeat to Blackburn last weekend.

They have slipped to eighth in the battle for a UEFA Cup spot, and the fact that Cahill is still the club's second-top scorer after missing 11 matches shows how much he has been missed.

Stallone may be able to provide the showbiz glitz on Sunday, but Cahill has the substance that Everton have been missing.

Assistant boss Alan Irvine cannot wait to have him back in the fold, after a week of full training.

Irvine has likened the potential effect of Cahill's return to that of Chelsea regaining the services of skipper John Terry.

Irvine said: 'As you can see, even at Chelsea, when key players are out, it makes a huge difference to results and performances. Tim Cahill is a very important player for us, without a doubt.

'Yes, someone will have to step aside and it is therefore important for the players who are under threat to make it impossible for them to be left out.

'Tim coming back will be a massive boost. It will almost be like Chelsea getting Terry and (Petr) Cech back.'

Everton will hope Cahill makes it, having lost two on the trot. They will be without full-back Nuno Valente for a month with a knee problem, and Simon Davies is pushing for a return to midfield.