PHIL NEVILLE admits a top-four finish may now be beyond Everton – but believes the Goodison outfit will redouble efforts to secure European qualification in the wake of their shock FA Cup loss.
David Moyes’s side are still sifting through the wreckage of their calamitous 3-0 quarter-final defeat at home to Wigan Athletic on Saturday.
Everton must now concentrate on the Premier League, where they have dropped to seventh behind neighbours Liverpool and are seven points off a Champions League berth.
And skipper Neville accepts the prime target now must be to finish fifth – they stand two points behind Arsenal – and earn a Europa League berth.
“The Champions League place is in the distance, a European place, we would take that now,” said the 36-year-old.
“It’s what we have been going for all season, making sure that next season there is European football being played at Everton. That’s our aim and remains our aim.”
Everton’s next two games are at home, with champions Manchester City visiting on Saturday followed by Stoke City a fortnight later.
“If we can finish in the top four then so be it, but at the moment our short-term aim is to win next Saturday against Man City, to recover and bounce back and show a reaction that we didn’t get on Saturday against Wigan and to attack the last eight or nine games of the season,” added Neville.
“It’s the time where we need to stand up for ourselves. We had a disappointing February, picked up our form going into March and then last week was a major setback for us.
“But this team, this club, has got major character and I fancy us to bounce back.”