LIVERPOOL, August 14 – Everton midfielder Tim Cahill believes Joleon Lescott will be able to ignore the storm surrounding his prospective move to Manchester City if he plays in Saturday's Premier League clash against Arsenal.Lescott stunned Everton manager David Moyes earlier this week when he handed in a written transfer request at Goodison Park in an attempt to provoke a move to City, who have already had two bids for the England defender rejected by the Toffees.
The former Wolverhampton centre-back remains a priority target for City boss Mark Hughes and has been offered the chance to triple his wages at Eastlands.
Everton fans may not take a sympathetic view of Lescott’s transfer request but Moyes has spoken to the player at length about his state of mind and is confident he will remain professional amid the furore, despite concerns about the reception he will receive from home supporters.
Moyes is not about to further weaken a defence already without Phil Jagielka and Australia star Cahill is convinced Lescott has the strength of character to cope.
Cahill believes Lescott will not be distracted and said: "It’s a catch 22 for the lad. Sometimes there are once in a lifetime bids and it’s astronomical money.
"But he is such a great professional and I know at the weekend he will give everything. It’s very hard for footballers these days to be put in such a difficult position.
"He’s a big player for Everton and England. If he goes, he goes, if he stays, he stays. But whatever decision he makes, I’ll support him.
"We make decisions for our families and the one thing about Joleon is that he is a great professional."
Meanwhile, Thomas Vermaelen intends to stay one step ahead of the game at the heart of the Arsenal defence this season.
The Belgian centre-back, manager Arsene Wenger’s only signing so far, is hopeful of recovering from a groin problem to make his full debut at Goodison Park and shore up a defence brutally exposed last season and now missing Kolo Toure.
The former Ajax player said: "I will always give 100 per cent. I have a good mentality. I want to do my best for Arsenal, playing as well as I possibly can.
"I think I am decent in the air and technically and I always want to battle on the pitch. You do need a little time to adapt and we will see how fast it goes, but I want to adapt as quickly as possible at Arsenal and play as many games as I can.
"I am looking forward to playing Premier League games. I have always admired the way the teams play, the commitment of the players. They always want to fight and that is what I like."
Wenger’s main focus will be on how many of his internationals return fit from their midweek games.
Tomas Rosicky (hamstring) and Samir Nasri (broken leg) have both already been ruled out for the opening few weeks of the season, while Eduardo, Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott, Andrey Arshavin, Emmanuel Eboue and Carlos Vela all represented their countries.