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Sep 17, 2009

Everton to solve selection dilemma with Neill deal

Everton are close to signing former Blackburn Rovers and West Ham defender Lucas Neill on a free transfer.

Neill is a free agent after leaving Upton Park at the end of last season and recently missed out on a move to Sunderland as Steve Bruce was unwilling to match the Australian international's wage demands.

Having been linked with a possible move to Atletico Madrid in Spain, Neill now appears to be on the brink of joining the Toffees and has arrived to undergo a medical. The 31-year-old could therefore finally move to Merseyside after notably turning down the chance to join Liverpool when signing for West Ham in January 2007.

If Neill does join Everton then he will help to solve David Moyes' selection problems in defence following a knee injury to Phil Neville which has resulted in the captain facing what the club describe as a "lengthy lay-off".

The Toffees face AEK Athens in the Europa League on Thursday night and Moyes is without a recognised right back as Neville is injured, Tony Hibbert is suspended and new signing Johhny Heitinga is not eligible. That means two young English prospects are vying for the chance to face the Greek side.

"Dan Gosling and Jack Rodwell are possibilities for right back," Moyes told the Daily Post. "Dan's played there before but he's not a right back, in truth.

"We also have problems in midfield because of losing Phil but we may have to move Rodwell anyway. But we don't have cover for centre halves or left backs at the moment either because Phil would cover there.

"We know he could have played at left back because he's played 40 games for England there and he's played right back and a couple of games at centre half for us a few times too. Losing Phil is like losing several players."

If Neill does sign for the club then he could make his debut against former club Blackburn at the weekend.

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