Neville keen to play on

  • Last Updated: July 6 2012, 16:01 BST

Everton captain Phil Neville is targeting another three years playing at the top level before he even considers retirement.

Phil Neville: Targeting three more years of playing

The 35-year-old had a mixed time last season but after losing his place in the side he battled back to play an important role as the Toffees finished seventh.

Neville has flown out to an Austrian training camp with the rest of the squad who have so far returned for pre-season training but he has been putting in a bit of extra work to ensure he can keep up with the younger players in the side.

"I worked quite hard over the summer. I went on holiday but I trained at a facility for a couple for weeks - that is par for the course now," he said.

"Particularly when you are getting older you have to stay ahead of the game.

"At the clinics I went to over the summer to do my training I learned that age is just a number.

"I want to play football for as long as I possibly can: two, three more years hopefully at the top level.

"The way that science is improving now players can play for as long as they possibly can.

"I think it is your mind which goes before your body and once your mind goes you can't make that back up.

"I'm quite a positive person. People say only look for this season but I am thinking 'Let's look for another three years'.

"But I have to remain fit, strong and keep playing well to keep my position in the team."

Neville readily admits he is no fan of pre-season training, particularly the camps manager David Moyes has them involved in, but he accepts it is a necessity.

And he believes as well as ensuring the physical side is in top condition it also helps bring the squad together mentally.

"I always say in pre-season you cannot look back on what you have achieved because if you stand still in football, and in life, you get overtaken by the young lads coming through and wanting your position," he told evertonTV.

"You constantly have to be making improvements, assessing what you did last season but making improvements on that and that is what I did over the summer.

"I used the summer to re-evaluate where I want to be and what I want to do with my career and how to improve myself.

"Being back in pre-season is tough but I think when you have so many young players around you they pull you with them.

"Then when the work gets really tough your experience comes through and we (the older players) then pull the young lads through because it is mentally tough as well and as an experienced player that is what you have as an advantage.

"Maybe the first five or six runs they are flying ahead but then when the going gets tough that is when the experienced lads pull the younger ones through and we've got a good mix here."

Neville spent a couple of weeks on a coaching course at the end of last season and although he has no intentions of calling it a day any time soon he wants to be prepared for the future.

"It it is another way of looking at the next stage of my career," he said.

"I think I've seen in the past when players get to the end of their career they finish one day and then say 'What am I going to do the next day?'

"You just have to prepare for that day when you can't play and I'm doing that now with my coaching badges.

"But there is a lot of hard work before I get my badges."