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Howard Hails Baines Influence

by Adam Clark @efc_adamclark

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Tim Howard believes Everton's impressive season has depended so greatly on the form of Leighton Baines, the left-back can consider himself unlucky not to be in the running for the PFA Player of the Year award.

Baines' name was absent when a six-man shortlist for the prestigious annual prize was announced last Friday.

The winner, as voted by his fellow professionals, will be revealed at a ceremony on Sunday, with Tottenham's Gareth Bale, Liverpool's Luis Suarez, Manchester United's Robin van Persie or Michael Carrick, or one of Chelsea duo Juan Mata and Eden Hazard set to walk away with the trophy.

Having fired United to their 20th English league crown following his summer move from Arsenal, Howard expects Van Persie to be a popular choice to scoop the award for the second successive year.

With 18 goals in 28 league appearances however, it's Bale - winner of the prize in 2011 - whom Everton’s American rates as marginal favourite.

And while few observers would argue with either of those emerging victorious, the goalkeeper insists some form of recognition for Baines would not have been misplaced.

Asked if his Goodison Park colleague could consider himself unfortunate not to be a contender, Howard told evertontv: "I think that's right. But with Bainesy at left-back position, it's not a glamour position and I think it's hard sometimes to see just how effective he is.

"He's our key cog. We've got [Marouane] Fellaini and [Steven] Pienaar and those guys, and obviously Kevin Mirallas can produce a bit of magic.

"But without Bainesy this team doesn't go. But it's just hard sometimes for people on the outside to see that.

"Van Persie has once again had a fantastic season after being brilliant last year, and certainly Gareth Bale has proven his worth again and again this season. For me, they're the two front runners.

“I think Gareth Bale might just nick it, but we'll see.

"Obviously Van Persie turns on the style as well and has won the title [with United], so it will be interesting and close. Very close."

Howard's own form this season saw him surpass 200 consecutive league appearances for Everton, a run which was cruelly ended by injury 10 games later with Neville Southall's club record of 212 agonisingly close.

Despite breaking two bones in his back, the glovesman was fit again just five weeks later and walked out against Arsenal earlier this month to make his 300th outing since moving to the Premier League in 2003.

Not content with that, the American capped his landmark night by keeping the Gunners at bay to take his tally of clean sheets in the competition to an impressive round tonne.

"I didn't know until someone told me this past week," he said. "I was delighted with the 300 games and then when they told me about the clean sheets I was over the moon.

"One in three is not a bad ratio and I believe in longevity and consistency and I believe that's what those numbers show.

"Hopefully I've got at least another 100 games in me and I can keep pushing that mark up."

To hear Howard talk more about his clean sheet record, the players he thanks for helping him achieve it and his thoughts on Saturday's visit of Fulham, watch the video above*.
 
Tickets for the visit of the Cottagers are on general sale now. To join us at Goodison Park, click here or call 0871 663 1878*. Alternatively, visit the Park End Box Office, Everton Two in Liverpool One or TicketQuarter in Queen Square.

* If you are using the Official Everton App, please navigate to the video section.

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