EVERTON are “desperate” to find the formula for a winning run which will propel them into the top five, says Leighton Baines.
The Toffees are 10th in the Premier League heading into the international fixtures after a frustrating 1-1 draw at Sunderland.
Baines, 29, scored the second half penalty which rescued a point at the Stadium of Light, and insisted it is imperative Roberto Martinez’s men return from the break and start imposing their quality on opponents.
He said: “We’re relieved in the end because we were behind and got a late goal.
“But we’re also frustrated because the league is so mad at the moment in terms of the results, and we’re desperate to pull ourselves away from that middle zone.
“We feel we’re good enough to have more points than we have so it’s just frustrating we can’t break loose from that pack.
“We feel like we should be higher up but I suppose taking a point is better than coming away with nothing.
“After this international break is our real chance to build some momentum. There are no internationals for a while and we can hopefully push on from there.
“As the league stands, three wins can just propel you. In the short term that’s our aim and we’ll see progress.
“We’ll come back and focus on that and then keep building on that. But we need to do it first.”
Everton must now sweat on the fitness of Gareth Barry who was sent to hospital after being stretchered off with an injured ankle on 13 minutes.
Baines admits any lengthy lay-off for the midfielder would be a blow, but hopes they get lucky.
“I don’t think Gareth has broken it,” said the left-back.
“He says he doesn’t feel like any type of break.
“He’s on crutches so it’s not a great sign but we’re hoping it’s not as serious as we first feared.
“If he misses that key period coming up, after the break, it’ll be difficult.
“Hopefully we’ll get the best case scenario whatever it is. We need him fit.”
Baines held his nerve to convert the 76th minute spot-kick which grabbed a point, despite having to wait while Sunderland players protested to ref Lee Mason.
He saw his last penalty saved at Old Trafford in October, but said: “I don’t tend to get anxious or anything I just blank everything out and feel alright.
“But it was an effort which went in and I was half apologetic that I’d hit it that badly and it still went in. I’m glad obviously.
“I’ve been offering them to the lads, saying does anyone want to take them off me?
“Even though it went in maybe it was bad enough for someone to take them off me.
“But joking aside I don’t think, although a couple could take them, there’s not really a specialist in the team so I’ll keep on keeping on for the time being.”