Moyes focused on Sunderland task despite lure of potential Liverpool semi-final
21:30 GMT, 26 March 2012
David Moyes has banished talk of a Liverpool revenge mission and demanded his Everton players concentrate on securing a return to Wembley.
Should Everton win at Sunderland on Tuesday, they will set up a first FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool since 1977 and have the opportunity to avenge an embarrassing 3-0 defeat at Anfield in the Barclays Premier League earlier this month.
There has been a heightened sense of anticipation on Merseyside over the prospect of the two clubs facing each other at Wembley for the first time since 1989 on April 14 but Moyes has warned his squad that getting distracted would be a fatal mistake.
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‘It (talking about Liverpool) is an irrelevance until the game is over,’ said Moyes. ‘I have not thought about anything else other than going up to Sunderland and getting a good result. I would never get myself that far ahead, not with playing such a good team in a replay.
‘This is a game of major importance and it will be tough. There is always a mystique and magic about Martin (O’Neill) and he has good teams.
‘But I have not heard anyone here talk about (Liverpool). The staff have not mentioned it. We’ve not thought about anything. We’ve just thought about (facing Sunderland) because of the fixture list we’ve had. We’ve hardly had time to breathe. Our focus will be totally on this game.’
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For Everton to progress, they will have to buck a worrying trend. They have suffered four defeats in 17 games in 2012 but all have occurred on either a Tuesday or Wednesday night but Moyes is not concerned that fatigue will compromise Everton’s ambitions.
He is also adamant that a defeat would mean the end of Everton’s campaign.
‘I expected somewhere along the line to be asked whether this game would be defined how the season would be viewed,’ said Moyes, who will without Royston Drenthe after giving the Dutch winger 'compassionate leave'.
‘We are desperately keen to get through to a semi-final and keep our good run going. If we get through, it keeps the buoyancy about the place.
‘We have had a lot of games and this one could go to extra time. That’s where it might take a toll.’