• Premier League

Neville putting off retirement decision

ESPN staff
February 8, 2013
Phil Neville will make his 300th Everton appearance against old club Manchester United © Getty Images

Everton captain Phil Neville has said he will wait until the season is almost over before deciding whether to carry on playing.

Neville, 36, is out of contract at Goodison Park in the summer and is holding off - for now - on talks about an extension.

Everton manager David Moyes has indicated that he wants his skipper to stay on for another 12 months, having recently signed up another of his experienced players, 35-year-old central defender Sylvain Distin, for next season.

But Neville, who missed six games in November and December after undergoing knee surgery, wants to be sure he is ready for another season at the top level before committing himself.

"I'm quite relaxed about the situation," he told the Liverpool Echo. "I spoke to the manager before Christmas and he asked me what I wanted to do. I said I wanted to speak probably more towards the end of the season.

"When I spoke to the boss, I'd just come out from having my knee operation, and I think it's sensible at my age to first see how the body is, and then see how my situation is within the club, and ask: 'Do I still retain the hunger and the determination and, more importantly, am I still having a positive effect on the team?'

"These are the things that, over the next three or four months, I'll be weighing up, and we'll take it from there."

The former England international, who is equally adept in defence or midfield, is in line to make his 300th Everton appearance when the Toffees face his former club Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday. Neville, described as a role model by Moyes, added: "I've been at Everton for the last eight years, and I've been captain, and I've been a large part of what's been going on.

"But I want to remain as influential, and if I felt I wasn't as influential, or I felt my form had dropped, or if I was standing in the way of someone who was coming through, then I would have to look at it. That's the reason why I'm in no rush."

Neville, though, admits he will find it very difficult to quit if Everton qualify for next season's Champions League. He said: "I said at the start of the season before I retire I want to play European football again. It's another ambition of mine. If you're coming to the end of your career you can be quite fearful - but I'm excited, because there are things I still want to achieve playing football."

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