Byline: IAN DOYLE
IT was an unassuming response typical of the man. With many Evertonians wondering what the future holds for Lee Carsley the player himself cannot see what the fuss is all about.
"This football club will be fine whether I decide to move on or not, it's not a big decision," he says. "The main thing is they have players like Joleon, Tim, Ossie, Hibbo and lots of the young lads on long term deals and they are the future.
"There are a lot of good players in this team and whether I stay or go will have no bearing on how the club does in the future."
Carsley does himself a disservice. As one of only two players - Tony Hibbert is the other - to have remained at Goodison since David Moyes's arrival in March 2002, the Republic of Ireland international has been integral to Everton's success under the Scot.
This season alone, only Phil Neville and Joleon Lescott have made more outings than Carsley, his dogged midfield determination a driving force behind the lengthy runs in the League and UEFA Cups and quest for another European qualification.
But after 197 appearances and 12 goals, including a famous derby matchwinner in December 2004, Carsley could well be pulling on an Everton shirt for the final time tomorrow when Newcastle United visit Goodison.
The 34-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season and has yet to decide whether to sign a one-year extension, with Derby County waiting in the wings with an offer to take him closer to his Midlands home.
Carsley was in this situation last season, eventually spurning interest from Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers to extend his Goodison career. And he says: "It will be a footballing decision when I make it. It's not a big deal. The club will get plenty of money in the summer to strengthen and will go out and have the pick of who they want.
"I have had seven fantastic seasons here and will have ended the majority of them in the top seven. I am undecided over what I'll do at the moment - I'll enjoy the summer and then speak to the gaffer and see what happens." Carsley Hibbert and Joseph Yobo are the only players expected to line up tomorrow who appeared when Everton last hosted Newcastle in a crucial end-of-season encounter.
That was three years ago, when Moyes's men won 2-0 on a memorable May afternoon to effectively seal fourth place and a Champions League
Tomorrow, only a point is required to stave off the late charge of Aston Villa and guarantee fifth place and a second successive UEFA Cup qualification.
"I remember last time being a fantastic day, a tough game, and a great end to the season," says Carsley, whose pounds 1.9million signing from Coventry City in February 2002 was one of the last acts by outgoing manager Water Smith. It was a huge achievement, although we had to wait for Liverpool's result the next day so didn't have the chance to celebrate that night. …