DAVID MOYES is confident his players won’t get caught cold at Oldham Athletic – and remains convinced Everton can qualify for the Champions League.
Moyes’s men will aim to take a step nearer a return to Wembley when they travel to the npower League One strugglers in their FA Cup fifth round tie on Saturday evening.
Everton have already negotiated trips at lower-league opposition in the competition having overcome Cheltenham Town and Bolton Wanderers.
The Goodison outfit, however, have been dumped out of the FA Cup three times by teams outside the Premier League during Moyes’s tenure, including a shock 1-0 home defeat to Oldham in 2008.
And Moyes said: “I have big respect for lower league teams. I have managed at that level, and lost games against teams from those leagues in the FA Cup before.
“I’ve lost to Oldham and to Shrewsbury, so I’m well aware what can happen if you don’t prepare correctly.”
Matt Smith, Oldham’s two-goal hero in their shock 3-2 win over Liverpool in the fourth round, has been passed fit for the clash at the famously inhospitable Boundary Park ground.
Everton go into the game on the back of a 2-0 defeat at Premier League leaders Manchester United last Sunday.
While only a fourth league defeat of the campaign, it left them six points adrift of the final Champions League qualification berth.
But with 12 games remaining, Moyes believes his players can still drag themselves back into the top four for the first time since December 22.
“I’ve always wanted to win a cup, but the way we have been doing in the league gives us a great chance (of finishing fourth),” he added.
“Our last couple of games have been disappointing but we feel we have been on a good run. We are still doing well and playing with confidence.
“We’re still in there and not too far off a Champions League place at this moment in time. We lost on Sunday, but our record has been that we haven’t been losing games and keep picking up points, and if we continue to do that then we’ll be in with a chance.
“But obviously, to win a trophy is something I would love to do for Everton’s supporters.”
Everton last finished in the top four in 2005, and Moyes has called on his current crop to replicate the resilience of that vintage.
“This is a better footballing team than the one that finished fourth and have a better style, but the one that finished fourth were really resilient and won a lot of games 1-0,” he added.
“They had a great winning mentality but this team has got that and we hope we can still get there.
“Character is massive, you need it to play at places like Old Trafford. And we have got character.”
Meanwhile, Ross Barkley is back at Finch Farm after his loan spell at npower Championship side Leeds United ended.
The youngster was not involved in the squad that lost 1-0 at Middlesbrough on Tuesday night, and he has now returned to Goodison Park.
“I spoke to David Moyes at Everton,” said Leeds manager Neil Warnock. “He wants him to play and I couldn’t guarantee him that.
“He’s done well, he’s a smashing player, but he needs to play games and I can’t guarantee that.”
Barkley, who had a successful loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday earlier in the campaign, moved to Elland Road on January 11 and made four appearances.
Everton’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur will now take place on April 7 (kick-off 2.05pm) and will be broadcast live by ESPN.