Everton v Benfica preview

Saha doubtful, but Hibbert and Pienaar could return

By Richard Bailey.   Last Updated: 05/11/09 9:07pm

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Saha: Fresh injury doubt

Saha: Fresh injury doubt

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Everton manager David Moyes believes pride is at stake when Everton welcome Benfica to Goodison Park in the Europa League on Thursday.

The Toffees were thumped 5-0 in Lisbon a fortnight ago but Moyes insists his side will not be looking for revenge.

In truth, both teams should qualify from Group I, with the two sides sitting on six points from their opening three games.

Everton go into the clash having failed to win since that 5-0 drubbing in Portugal - losing to Bolton, and Tottenham in the Carling Cup, before drawing 1-1 with Aston Villa last time out.

Moyes has also highlighted that a point on Thursday would not necessarily be a bad thing but the Merseyside club will be looking to take advantage of Benfica's poor away form in Europe, with the Portuguese side failing to win any of their last seven matches on their travels.

The Toffees have been hit hard by injuries in recent weeks with Moyes forced to field patched-up teams on occasions. The Scot has suffered more bad news in that striker Louis Saha has become the latest injury doubt with a calf strain.

The Frenchman picked up the problem against Spurs but still managed to feature as a second-half substitute against Villa. However, the injury has failed to improve and could rule the former Manchester United frontman out.

Injury setback

Defender Tony Hibbert could make a timely return having missed the Villa match with flu as fellow defenders Lucas Neill and Johnny Heitinga are both ineligible.

Mikel Arteta has suffered a setback in his recovery from a cruciate ligament injury after undergoing more surgery on the troubled knee to clear up an infection. The club have confirmed that they do not yet know how long the procedure will delay the Spaniard's recovery.

Phil Jagielka (knee), Leon Osman (foot), Victor Anichebe (knee), James Vaughan (knee) and Phil Neville (knee) are still all sidelined but Steven Pienaar (knee) could return to the bench.

Benfica head coach Jorge Jesus is expecting a far sterner test at Goodison than the one his side faced at the Stadium of Light two weeks ago.

The Benfica boss is wary of an Everton backlash and has briefed his players to expect as much, saying: "Everton is the strongest team who Benfica have faced up to today.

"Everton is an excellent team, but it caught a Benfica side that was very strong and inspired that afternoon."

The Portuguese side have only two injury concerns after defender Cesar Peixoto and midfielder Carlos Martins have been left at home due to respective knocks.

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