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Nev Joy At Mirallas Boost

by Adam Clark @efc_adamclark

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Skipper Phil Neville says the return to fitness of Kevin Mirallas is a massive plus for Everton.

The Belgian had made just one appearance since mid-November due to a troublesome hamstring problem but came off the bench to play the final 25 minutes of Monday's goalless draw at Southampton.

Neville also had praise for another substitute, Victor Anichebe, but believes the re-emergence of winger Mirallas gives the Blues an extra attacking dimension.

In an exclusive interview with evertontv, he said: "It was great to see him [Mirallas] back. It showed when Kevin came on, when their defenders dropped off a little bit, that they knew there was a player with pace.

"He brought others into the game. I thought Victor Anichebe made a huge change as well, causing them problems, and that was important for us."

Neville conceded the Toffees, who were searching out a fourth straight away win, were fortunate not to find themselves behind at St Mary's.

However, on his 36th birthday, the veteran captain felt a second-half improvement might well have led to a celebratory victory on another day.

"It was a game of two halves, definitely," he said. "We were so lucky to come in at half time 0-0.

"If the score had been two or three nil to them I don’t think we would have had too much to complain about.

"We just didn’t start the game well. Southampton, with the new manager, came out of the traps really quickly. They had some chances and Tim Howard kept us in the game.

"But in the second half we played a lot better. We got control of the game and I thought that if there was going to be one team that would go on and win the game, it was us.
 
"We had some good chances - Victor, [Nikica] Jelavic and Mirallas all had good chances. But football’s like that – no two halves are ever the same."

Over 2,000 supporters made the burdening journey down to a freezing south coast - a dedicated level of support that will be in evidence once again when Everton travel to Championship Bolton in the FA Cup on Saturday.

The Blues sold out their allocation for that game on Monday afternoon and Neville added: "They're a Premier League side with a Premier League stadium, even though they're playing in the Championship, and we'll need to show better form and better concentration than we did against Southampton.

"I'm sure we'll be okay and we'll be backed by a lot of fans, so that will spur us on as well."

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