Toffees' Schillo in pickle
STEVEN Pienaar will be faced with a personal quandary on Sunday - help his Everton side finish above bitter rivals Liverpool, or give his beloved Newcastle United a shot at qualification for the Uefa Champions League.
The Bafana Bafana skipper will play the final match of a highly successful loan spell at Goodison Park this weekend, one which has seen him find top form and potentially have a massive say in the destination of the English Premiership title.
His late equaliser against Manchester United at Old Trafford in a remarkable 4-4 draw last month proved the turning point in the title race and has been singled out by United boss Sir Alex Ferguson as the catalyst for Manchester City's likely championship success.
The 2011-2012 campaign really has been a tale of two halves for Pienaar: surplus to requirements at Tottenham Hotspur before Christmas, and a leading star for Everton in the new year.
The Magpies visit Merseyside for the final game of their campaign one point behind Spurs, who occupy the fourth and final Champions League qualification position.
By helping Everton win on Sunday, Pienaar would not only ensure a seventh-place finish for the Toffees, but also help Harry Redknapp's side bring Champions League football to White Hart Lane again next season.
But if they do, it is highly unlikely that Pienaar will be there to enjoy it.
The 30-year-old has already told Everton manager David Moyes that he wants a permanent return to the club, and Moyes came out this week to say that Pienaar was the first player he was going to try to sign when the transfer window re-opens next month.
"We lost Steven Pienaar, we lost Mikel Arteta (to Arsenal) and we didn't have a forward who could score lots of goals," Moyes said of the team's dismal first half of the season. "Suddenly we have a forward who can score but we are maybe still lacking a wee bit of creativity.
"Steven's brought us some more creativity since he's been back. He is undoubtedly one of the first bits of business we need to do."
Pienaar's representatives have remained cagey on his permanent return to Goodison, but Sowetan understands that both the club and the player are committed to making the deal happen.