Swansea V Everton at Liberty Stadium - Match Preview
Updated Friday, 23rd March 2012
Swansea V Everton at Liberty Stadium - Match Preview.
Left-back Neil Taylor insists Swansea will not have European qualification on their minds against Everton, despite a run of three straight wins catapulting them into Europa League contention.
Back-to-back defeats at the end of February had left some fans looking anxiously at the gap to the bottom three, but an impressive run of victories over Wigan, Manchester City and Fulham has lifted the south Wales club to eighth in the Barclays Premier League table.
Only the top five are currently set to qualify for European competition through the league, with Chelsea occupying the final spot, 10 points clear of the Swans.
But if the FA Cup final were to be contested by two sides who qualify for Europe through the league or, in the case of Liverpool, winning the Carling Cup, there is the potential for the sides who finish sixth and seventh to qualify for the Europa League.
Swansea will face the Toffees at the Liberty Stadium just three points adrift of seventh-placed Liverpool, but Taylor insists that securing mathematical survival remains the number one priority.
The 23-year-old said: "There has not been any talk of Europe, there honestly hasn't. The number one all season, even around January and February when people said we would be okay, has been about staying up.
"That's the main objective. Maybe next year, we can set ourselves a little higher target. This season we just have to stay in the Premier League.
"I saw the table the other day and from the turn of the year, we are actually third.
That's something that shows progression and that's all we ever wanted. We know as a group that we are working hard every day and striving hard to do better.
"We are coming up to a time in the season when we are going to be playing the QPRs, the Blackburns and I think they are going to be really hard games because they are fighting for survival. It will be even tougher than playing them around December time.
"We need to remember where we are and what type of football club we are. We just want to finish as high as we can and if we could finish inside the top 10 it would be an unbelievable achievement."
Rodgers is set to restore Ashley Williams to his starting XI.
The defender missed last weekend's impressive win at Fulham due to illness, but is likely to take his place back from club captain Garry Monk against the Toffees.
Wayne Routledge will continue on the right wing as Nathan Dyer serves the final game of his three-match ban after his red card in the win at Wigan.
Meanwhile, Everton boss David Moyes has spoken of his admiration for Rodgers' "purists".
Their progress has certainly impressed Moyes, who is anticipating a tough task at the Liberty Stadium, where the home team have been beaten only twice this term.
"Swansea are real purists in terms of what they want to try to do," Moyes said.
"The style they play is great and I've admired what they have done.
"I'm looking forward to this, but it will be a tough game. We will have to make sure we try to stop the rhythm of their play, because if you don't, then they get into it.
"They are making 500 or 600 passes in every game they play - they are out-passing Manchester United and Arsenal in games.
"So you have to be aware that there will be lots of times in the game where you don't have the ball because of how well they do it."
Everton, 10th, go into the contest having suffered a minor blip recently.
Up until last week's Merseyside derby the Toffees had been unbeaten in nine games in all competitions, but they then lost 3-0 to Liverpool at Anfield and 1-0 at home to Arsenal in the league either side of a 1-1 FA Cup quarter-final draw with Sunderland at Goodison Park.
Moyes feels his team have been guilty of making slow starts in recent matches but does not think his players have been performing too badly in general.
"Against Arsenal, for the first 20 minutes we weren't very good but after that, you couldn't turn around and fault the players in terms of what we were trying to do," Moyes said.
"We have not started the last few games very well and we need to make sure that is something we are aware of."
Everton could have Darron Gibson back. He has been out of action for five games due to a knee problem.