LIVERPOOL, Sept 17 – Australia defender Lucas Neill was Thursday undergoing a medical at Everton with the aim of joining the Merseyside club on a free transfer, two years after turning down the chance to join their neighbours Liverpool.The 31-year-old, who is a free agent after turning down an offer to stay at his former club West Ham, has been offered a four-year contract at Goodison Park, where he will team up with international team-mate Tim Cahill.
Cash-strapped West Ham had only been prepared to give Neill a one-year extension on terms that were reportedly significantly worse than the 70,000-pound-a-week salary he negotiated when he snubbed Liverpool for the Hammers in January 2007.
Neill had also attracted interest from Atletico Madrid, Turkish giants Galatasaray and Sunderland but had not been able to conclude a deal with any of them.
Everton’s approach came after manager David Moyes lost the services of club captain Phil Neville, who suffered knee ligament damage playing against Fulham on Sunday, further reducing his defensive options.
Neville will be out for three months while first-choice centreback Phil Jagielka will not resume playing before November and Dutchman John Heitinga, signed following the departure of Joleon Lescott to Manchester City, is ineligible to play in Europe until January.
Neill will also not be able to play in the Europa League but offers Moyes cover across the back four positions.
Everton’s boss admitted this week that his playing staff was looking extremely stretched.
"We lost five players in the summer and now we have lost Phil Neville, so that’s six," he said. "And we have only brought three in. That does make things difficult for us, I just hope we are able to cope with it."
Moyes added: "The squad is smaller now than last season. It is testing for all of us, but not every manager is going to get all the money he wants to buy the best players in the world with riches and the top players.
"Part of this job is working with what you have and making the best of it. We have done that well over the years."
Everton’s injury problems and the loss of Lescott after a protracted transfer saga have contributed to the club making their worst start to a league campaign under Moyes. The Toffees have lost three of their first four matches and are currently residing in the relegation zone.