Tim Howard is confident Everton are close to regaining their dazzling early-season form.
David Moyes’ side had gone four matches without tasting victory but overcame the mini-blip with a confident showing against Oldham Athletic on Tuesday.
The Blues are now faced with four straight home fixtures, with Reading, Manchester City and Stoke all set to visit Goodison Park before the end of March.
With an FA Cup quarter-final against Wigan also thrown in the mix, Howard believes his side are showing signs of getting back on track at just the right time.
“I don’t think we are firing on all cylinders. And at the moment, I think that’s a good thing,” said the American.
“We have advanced in the cup and have a home draw. And you look at the league table and we’re still in the thick of it.
“We have to start doing the business but we are still in there. We seem to be higher up the league at this stage of the season than we have been in a while.
“We don’t have a large squad, so it’s going to be about big players stepping up to the plate and producing when it matters.”
Everton hit three goals against Oldham, but it was the defensive display which left Howard most optimistic.
“It was a tough two games and they didn’t make it easy for us,” added the American. “In the end it was the right result and over the course the best team won.
“We defended well. People talk about how they crash the ball forward to make it difficult, and that’s not easy to defend. Sometimes they had success with it but overall I thought we held on pretty well.
“It was difficult for myself, Jags and Sylvain but they really stood up to the challenge. I thought they were fantastic and won most of their battles. In the end, that’s what saw us through.”
Everton are now 90 minutes away from a fourth Wembley visit in as many seasons and with the near-misses from 2009 and 2012 still fresh in the mind, Howard is hopeful this can be the year the Blues finally end their 18-year wait for silverware.
He continued: “We have a home tie and if we win we get back to Wembley. We know how good that makes everybody feel so there is a lot of motivation.
“Wigan will be difficult. The way they play their football, they make it tough and pose a different challenge than what we had against Oldham. We will try and match up the best we can.
“But, as I say, we are at home and are 90 minutes away from Wembley, so we need to take care of business.”
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