Osman aiming to avoid Euro place 'disaster'

May 9, 2008

Everton midfielder Leon Osman believes it will be 'a disaster' if the club fail to qualify for the UEFA Cup on the last day of the season.

Wigan-born Osman - who will be 27 on Cup Final day next week - picked up the club's goal of the season trophy at Wednesday's third annual awards dinner in Liverpool.

But his mind was very much on Sunday's final home match against Newcastle.

If Everton lose and Aston Villa win at West Ham, then fifth place and UEFA Cup qualification will be snatched from them, having not been out of the top five since January.

Osman said: 'Sunday's game means everything to us. Not only to make sure we are automatically in the UEFA Cup proper, but we don't really want to be left in the Intertoto Cup.

'With that competition the players have to start back training a couple of weeks earlier and it means competitive football earlier than it should be for the lads, with their fitness levels not quite right by then.'

Everton were unlucky to go out of the UEFA Cup this term at the last-16 stage on penalties to eventual semi-finalists Fiorentina, and they desperately want another taste of the competition.

Osman, whose stunning goal of the season was scored in the European tie against Larissa, added: 'We really enjoyed our European experience this season and not to have it next term would be a disaster for us.

'With the ability we have shown this season and the quality we have got, and the players we have, we go into Sunday's game with our confidence high.

'If we play to our potential, we should get the result that we require to make sure of fifth and to complete a fine season.'

Joleon Lescott picked up both main awards, the fans' player of the year and players' player of the year trophies, while last season's winner Mikel Arteta was absent from the evening.

Earlier in the day he had undergone a stomach operation in Barcelona to solve a persistent problem that has dogged him for much of the campaign. He expects to be fit for next season.

His colleagues will attempt to end their season on a high with a win against Newcastle, and extend their best-ever Premier League points haul.