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Lille (A) Thu 23 Oct 2014, 18:00, Europa League

Howard Hails Gibson Return

by Adam Clark @efc_adamclark

Everton v Swansea

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Darron Gibson's Man of the Match performance against Manchester City highlighted why the Irish midfielder is now one of Everton's key men.

That's the opinion of goalkeeper Tim Howard, who says the 25-year-old’s display at the Etihad Stadium showed exactly what the Blues were missing during his three-month absence with a thigh problem.

The January arrival produced a brave, battling performance in only his second game since returning from his injury troubles, expertly shielding the defence at one end and instigating a succession of menacing attacks at the other.

"We missed him and we missed his passing range, which certainly gets us out of trouble at times," Howard told evertontv following Saturday’s 1-1 draw. "His patience and composure on the ball really helps us. 

"His quality and his pedigree, obviously coming from Manchester United, means that in taking the ball and in his passing range he's incredible.

"He's a strong runner, he tracks the attacking players deep into our defensive end, he can head the ball and he's strong, so he's got a lot of really good qualities as a holding centre midfielder."

Howard came to the rescue with two second-half stops against the champions but, overall, the American insisted Everton's performance was worthy of a point.

"The performance was good," he said. "They've been good since the beginning of the season and Saturday was no different.

"As much as we had to weather the storm in the second half, I thought first half we were brilliant and too much for them to handle at times."

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