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Everton-Newcastle United Preview

AP - Sports

Everton will be looking to keep their slim top-four hopes alive Tuesday when they travel to St James' Park to play Newcastle.

Roberto Martinez's Everton (15-9-5) go into the midweek match in sixth place in the table, eight points behind fourth-placed Arsenal. However three consecutive league victories, including an impressive 3-2 win over Swansea on Saturday, have seen the resurgent Toffees again think about sneaking into the Champions League places.

"The dream is always alive as long as it is mathematically possible," said veteran centre-back Sylvain Distin. "We are not in a position where we have to focus on the team above us. We cannot depend on them so there is no point looking at it now.

"Every single game is important. You have to win. If you want to be successful, you can't start a game thinking it will be okay to draw this one."

Newcastle (14-4-12) look set for a comfortable top-half finish and enjoyed another good afternoon with a stoppage time win over Crystal Palace on Saturday. Papiss Cisse scored the only goal of the game in the 90th minute after Newcastle had dominated much of the game in the absence of suspended manager Alan Pardew. Newcastle's assistant manager John Carver stood in once again for Pardew on the touchline, but refused to take total credit for the win, despite admitting Palace's tactics were easy to predict.

"I think we knew what their game plan was, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to work it out," said Carver. "Get everybody behind the ball, make it difficult, frustrate the crowd. Which they did at times but the fans stayed with us. We still ended up with twenty-odd shots with eight on target I think.

"I spoke to the manager and he gave me a few options. We sat on it for a while and decided to make the change. As to who gets the credit I'm not too sure at the minute."

Newcastle have injury doubts over Shola Ameobi (knee) and Davide Santon (illness), while Mathieu Debuchy (groin), Loic Remy (calf), Gabriel Obertan (knee) and Ryan Taylor (knee) are out. Everton have concerns over the fitness of Phil Jagielka (hamstring), but remain without Steven Pienaar (knee), Lacina Traore (hamstring), Bryan Oviedo (broken leg), Arouna Kone (knee) and Darron Gibson (knee).

Everton ran out 3-2 winners when these teams met at Goodison Park back in September. A Romelu Lukaku brace and another by Ross Barkley put the Toffees three goals up at halftime, only for Yohan Cabaye and Loic Remy to pull goals back after the break and provide a nervy finish.

Only Aston Villa and table-toppers Chelsea have conceded fewer goals on the road than Everton's 17 this season. However, Martinez's team have struggled to find the net away from home, managing just 14 in 14 compared to 29 in 15 at Goodison. Newcastle have scored 19 goals and conceded 19 goals in their league matches at St James' Park.

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