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Monday 11 December 2017

Martinez stands up for sub-par Howard

Roberto Martinez has hailed the impact of Ireland international Darron Gibson in the Everton side after his return from injury, writes Aidan Fitzmaurice.

Yesterday was a frustrating day for the Toffees as they needed an 88th minute equaliser to nab a point at home to Leicester City, fingers pointed at Everton keeper Tim Howard for his display.

Having led 1-0 thanks to Steven Naismith's opener, Everton went 2-1 down following goals from David Nugent and Esteban Cambiasso, but a late own goal from Matthew Upson earned the Toffees a point.

But while Aiden McGeady remains sidelined, his compatriot Gibson came off the bench to replace Ross Barkley, only his second appearance for the club since November, and boss Martinez was pleased to see the Derry-born player in action along with fellow sub Christian Atsu.

"I think the introduction of Darron Gibson and Christian Atsu gave us a completely different dynamic and they were very energetic," said Martinez.

"Christian, with his low balance, got in some really good positions and Darron's exceptional passing ability - both short and long - made the pitch very big and allowed the wingers to get in some one-on-one situations.

"When those two came on, we looked really at ease in terms of trying to score goals. Romelu Lukaku had two good opportunities and then, obviously, we scored and managed to get the equaliser."

Gibson admitted that it was a disappointing day for his side but he refused to blame the reuslt on fatigue following their away trip in the Europa League last week.

"If we could put our finger on it then we would change something," he said. "I don't think the Thursday European games are affecting us. It might show in the results but physically it's not affecting us. The stats aren't down or anything.

"We're not doing anything different as players and as a team so I'm not really sure what it is," added Gibson, eager to start at home to Young Boys on Thursday.

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