Everton eye Europa qualification

Everton (AFP)
Everton (AFP)
Cape Town - Everton will be looking to wrap up their qualification to the Europa League knockout stages when they travel to Wolfsburg on Thursday evening.

The Toffees are so far undefeated in Group H, having won two and drawn two of their opening four matches to sit one point clear at the top of the standings, with this week's opponents hot on their heels.

A draw in Germany would be enough to see the Goodison Park outfit progress to the last-32, although victory would secure their position at the top, earning Roberto Martinez's men a more favourable draw in the next round.

Even defeat could still be enough to put Everton through, provided the night's other Group H fixture, between Krasnodar and Lille, ends in a draw.

The Merseysiders are, however, without a host of first-choice players, with Steven Naismith (hamstring), Leighton Baines (hamstring), Gareth Barry (ankle), Darron Gibson (knee), Steven Pienaar (knee), John Stones (ankle) and Antolin Alcaraz (shoulder) all out injured.

Arouna Kone, though, has been named in the squad after overcoming a long-term knee problem, but Bryan Oviedo is still lacking match fitness.

The hosts, meanwhile, will be looking to bounce back from their Bundesliga defeat to Schalke last weekend, a result which kept them second in the German top-flight standings, but one that also saw them drop seven points behind leaders Bayern Munich.

The side had, however, dispatched Krasnodar with consummate ease in their previous European outing, recording a 5-1 thrashing of the minnows, while their 4-1 reverse to Everton on matchday-one could help inspire a fight back as the teams resume hostilities this week.
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