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The Dutchman is relishing the upcoming clash with cross-town rivals Liverpool and is after a win that will widen the existing six-point gap between the two clubs

Everton defender John Heitinga considers his club's forthcoming clash with Liverpool to be the season's most important fixture.

Last season marked the first time in seven years that David Moyes' club finished above the Reds in the league, and the 28-year-old is keen for his club to get an early head-start on their rivals this term.

A win for the Toffees would create a nine-point lead over Brendan Rodgers' men after as many games.

"I can’t wait till next Sunday because it’s the biggest game of the year in my eyes,” Heitinga told his club’s official website.

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"It’s a home game as well and if you take a look at the table, you know, you can’t talk about favourites but if we win, there’s a big gap between us and Liverpool.

"It is a game that is different to a league game because it’s a derby and the stadiums are not far from each other.

"There is just a park between the stadiums. In games like derbies there are some different emotions that are coming up into your body."

Heitinga is no longer guaranteed a starting spot in his favoured position of central defence, with the good form of Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin having often relegated Heitinga to the substitutes’ bench so far this term.

Heitinga, though, has no complaints about his situation, and claims that such a level of competition can only be healthy for the players involved.

He added: "I’m not frustrated. We’ve got three really good centre halves and the manager spoke with all three of us and said you are all going to play a lot of games this season.

"Of course you want to play all the games, and also I can play in different positions, but my best position is centre half.

"Last year I think the manager was lucky that one of us had injury or suspension and he didn’t have to choose but now the three of us, at the moment everybody is fit and the only player that played all the games is Jags.

"Competition for places makes you a better player.  There is a lot of competition in the team at the moment and the best player will always play."