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Everton FC's small squad can be blessing in disguise says boyhood blue Lee Trundle
Lee Trundle has always been a bit different. The Huyton-born forward is far from your average identikit modern footballer, honed on the principles of rarely taking risks or daring to do the unexpected.
In fact, Trundle is quite the opposite. How many other players would successfully perform the exquisite pieces of skill during a game that Trundle rolled out during his high-profile stint at Swansea City among other clubs across the land? So perhaps it’s no surprise that a man who once caught the ball on his shoulder, rolled it around his neck to the other side of his body before dropping it onto his magic left-foot to deliver a perfect pass to his strike partner, still thinks differently. And that contrary streak applies to his outlook on the fortunes of his boyhood team too. Trundle, who is currently with Preston North End, is an ardent Bluenose - even if he is equally an adopted son of Swansea, and can’t wait to take his seat at Goodison Park on Saturday when the two in-form sides meet. Like most Blues he is thrilled with Everton’s upwardly mobile progress this season and believes a top four finish is not beyond them. But ask him if he shares the common concern that David Moyes’ small squad could ultimately stymie their ambition, and he begs to differ. “I know people say the size of the squad is a negative but it can help in terms of team spirit and the overall cohesion and way they play,” says the 36-year-old. “The players know there won’t be constant chopping and changing to include all sorts of different players week in week out.
“Players get to really know each other’s games inside out. I know why people have legitimate worries about the squad size but I prefer to see the positive side of it.”
Trundle, who scored 83 goals in 166 appearances for Swansea, insists the brilliance of Everton’s left-sided wonders Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar is also aided by the squad situation.
“Their understanding comes from playing together a lot,” he says.
“Bigger squads can train every day and you do get a level of understanding from training with your team-mates but there’s nothing like the understanding in a game and you can see that with Everton having a consistent first 11 it really shows.”
Trundle knows a thing or two about exciting forward play, and admits Marouane Fellaini is another Everton player he loves to watch.
“You get big, strong players,” he says.
“And Fellaini is both of those things but he’s also so much more.
“I was speaking to some of the lads who have played against him and they all say how hard it is. He’s so strong on the ball and when they have tried to nudge him in a challenge to put him off it has no effect.
“He has that lovely touch and chest control and try as you might it’s hard to stop him. He’s got everything.”
In the week that news of a buy-out clause in Fellaini’s contract emerged, Trundle admits the prospect of losing the Belgian would be tough to take.
“As an Evertonian you want your best players to stay,” he says. “He has been a massive player and has been behind a lot of the progress we’ve made this season.
“As a footballer though I think back to when I was at Swansea , a club I love, and I was very happy. Then Bristol City came in for me and although I didn’t really want to leave at the time they were in a higher division and you want to test yourself as much as you can in your career.
“Fellaini obviously has ambitions to play in the Champions League and play for a club that can challenge for domestic honours. You hope he can achieve at least one of those things at Everton.
“If they can get in the Champions League next season it takes away any excuses.”
Trundle hopes the temptation to seek a new horizon does not also entice David Moyes to leave the club he has been in charge of for nearly 11 years.
“For any manager to be around for that long at one club proves they’re doing something right,” he says.
“He’s a class act and every Everton fan wants him to stay as well. It might have been said many times but it’s true he’s worked wonders on a tight budget. The worry is that when you’ve been in a job that long maybe you start to want a fresh challenge.
“I really hope that the challenge for Moyes is leading Everton in the Champions League, which would be something he’d relish.”
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