Oct 162014

Leon Osman insists he does not want to become typecast as an Everton FC super-sub.

The veteran midfielder has increasingly had to be content with a place on the bench for the Blues over the last 12 months, although he was the only player to appear in every Premier League game last term.

Osman, 33, says he will accept whatever role Roberto Martinez asks of him, but admits he would love to get more chances to influence games from the start.

He said: “I actually want to play more. I’ve been on the bench for almost every game and in some I haven’t been used which I’ve been disappointed about.

“But that’s just who I am – I want to be on the pitch playing football.

“I’m available and if the manager chooses to use me I’ll be delighted. It’s his call and I’ll make myself available as long as I can.

“You don’t want to be constantly used as a sub but we’ve got a big squad at the moment and some good players.

“Saying that we have a lot of games and the manager tells us we’ll all get our time throughout the season so hopefully I get a few more minutes on the pitch.

“But if it’s not to be the case and I’m to get 15 or 20 minutes at the end of every game then I will always do it for this football club.”

Osman is desperate to try and help Everton to their first league win at home when Aston Villa come to Goodison on Saturday.

And he believes the Blues uncharacteristic struggles on home soil this season are a result of jitters caused by their failure to get the points they deserved from their two opening games, particularly the visit of Arsenal to L4 in August.

“Once we get that first win things will feel the same again quickly,” he said. “Last season we drew against West Brom but it was only the Chelsea game when it took off for us.

“They came and had a good few chances but we kept them out and won the game. It was difficult against a good Chelsea team; it created a feel-good factor.

“Things went differently this year. We went into the Arsenal game with that feeling and went 2-0 up but then we let it slip and it was the flipside of last year.

The nerves began to creep in and you can sense it out there in the atmosphere.

“It was damaging to concede those goals against Arsenal. To be so comfortable but then have that setback, two goals in seven minutes, set the tension and unease.

We had two big games to set our season with. Then against Chelsea we had a right good go.

“We went toe to toe with them but ended up conceding six. Because of those results it felt things just weren’t going for us at home.

Crystal Palace came and they seem to be a bogey team for us.

“If we had spread those results out over the course of the season it wouldn’t be so bad but having three in the first three home games made it hard. It gave people plenty to talk about.

“But we’re confident in ourselves and we know what we’re capable of. We know how difficult it can be to Goodison with the crowd behind us.”

The veteran midfielder knows the Blues can make life easier for themselves by starting to keep some much-needed clean sheets.

“We’ve been having to score maybe three goals to win a game,” he said. “One hasn’t been enough because we’re conceding too many.

“It takes away from the momentum. Against Palace we were cruising at 1-0 up, could have scored two or three and then to concede one out of nothing the whole momentum changes. That’s why we need to get back to clean sheets again.

“The games have turned on fine lines; the types of things which can change seasons in general. You look at the first two games; if we had won them, which we should have done, the table looks a lot better. Everyone would be happy and we were just unlucky last week.

“But a few undesired results have left us sitting here with only one league win.

“We know we need to get things up and running properly and we can’t wait to get into it on Saturday.”

Last season’s visit of Villa to Goodison Park came on the back of the worst result of the campaign, the 4-0 Anfield derby debacle. But a late fight-back against Paul Lambert’s men provided a springboard, which Osman hopes can be replicated this time around.

He added: “Last season we were coming off the back of a bad result too and as you always do we had intentions to go out and put it right. Then we were 1-0 down after half an hour.

“It was another hurdle, another up-hill climb but we showed our character. We were up against it but we didn’t crumble.

“It took two late goals but we showed we don’t give in.

“We’re going into a Villa game again tomorrow in a similar situation, although we probably should have got something from the United game at Old Trafford the season hasn’t hit the heights we’d have wanted it to yet, but there’s no better time to start than the Villa game.”

It was Steven Naismith’s goal that turned the tide against the Villains back in February, and Osman has nothing but admiration for a player who, like him, had to work hard to prove his worth to the Goodison faithful.

“He’s shown great patience which is a real credit to him,” he said. “He’s a talented player with a real eye for goal. His engine and work-rate are incredibly good and incredibly high as well.

“He’s shouldered the goal scoring responsibility so far. We have scored goals elsewhere but he’s bene the main man. He’s thoroughly enjoyed it and he’s doing it from the deeper role, making breaks forward and it’s suiting him.”

Osman has an admirable knack for winning headers against taller players, but he admits Naismith is the master of unlikely leap in the current squad.

But would the Scot even out-jump another one of his former team-mates renowned for his Herculean spring – Tim Cahill?

“It’s tough,” he laughs. “I don’t know what it is with Naisy. You sometimes just don’t see it coming. He’s really learned how to maximise his jumping ability.

“He jumps across people rather than jumping with and alongside them like the old fashioned centre forward.

“He has got a hell of a leap. I’d be interested to see him and Tim doing it together. I think maybe Tim has just got the edge.

“I watched Scotland the other night and they played him out on the right and put all their balls out towards him so he could win headers. It shows his ability.”

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