David Moyes has admitted Tim Cahill is "hurting" after being dropped from the Everton team but the manager believes the decision was required to spark a return to form from the Australia international.
Cahill has been a permanent fixture at Everton since arriving from Millwall for a bargain £1.5m more than seven years ago, but he has struggled this season and lost his place for Wednesday's home win against Swansea City.
The 32-year-old has not scored for Everton for more than 12 months, his last club goal coming 29 matches ago in the 2-1 win at Manchester City on 20 December 2010, and he was withdrawn after an hour of a disappointing display in the previous game against Norwich City.
"His reaction to being taken off against Norwich wasn't great but I've got no problem with that," Moyes said. "He is hurting at the moment but I think what's happened in recent matches has refocused him a bit and hopefully we will see the benefit of that. By his own admission, Tim has not played as well as he should have done and the goals have dried up too, but we will help him try to get back to how we know he can be."
Moyes moved Leon Osman into Cahill's customary position against Brendan Rodgers's team and was vindicated when the midfielder headed home the only goal of the game.
He said: "I felt we needed to change things against Swansea. We've played Tim as a centre-forward in a 4-4-2 in the last few weeks and we have not scored any goals, so we had to try something different and went with Louis up top, with Ossie behind him."
Cahill began last season in outstanding form and had scored nine goals before leaving to take part in the Asian Cup with Australia in January. Since his return from the tournament, however, he has scored only once – for Australia in their friendly win over Wales in August – and Moyes conceded the forward needed to realise his place was under threat.
Moyes said: "I've got to say that, even though it's only been a day or two, I've been very impressed by his reaction. I think he needed it [a jolt] and I think he knows that himself. He has responded well, which is what I would expect from someone of his type. He is a great type, a great worker."
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