'He's Getting Better And Better'
Baines lauds Osman as he closes in on 300 games.
Leon Osman is getting better and better as he closes in on 300 Everton appearances.
That's the view of teammate Leighton Baines, who says the diminutive midfielder is having a greater influence on the side now than ever before.
Osman is currently on 299 first-team outings and could reach the three-tonne landmark against Fulham on Saturday.
Asked if he felt the Billinge-born 30-year-old had produced some of the best football of his career this term, Baines told evertontv: "Normally you have to ask the individual and he might agree with you.
"Ossie's been a terrific player for the Club over the years and he's continued to grow over the years and he's a massively important player for us now.
"Since I've been here, I think he's got better every year really and become more and more important to us. I thought last season he was great and this year he's been fantastic again. He's a vital part of the squad and the team."
Osman made his Everton debut in a 4-3 defeat at Tottenham in January 2003, emerging from the bench to replace China international Li Tie with just a minute of normal time remaining.
Sixteen months later he scored his first senior goal just two minutes into his first start for the Club, an eventual 2-1 loss at Wolves.
Since then he has netted a further 41 times and is now set to follow fellow Academy graduate Tony Hibbert in racking up an impressive triple century of appearances.
"It's fantastic," added Baines. "To get to 300 games is a very nice landmark to reach."