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Everton's 3-0 win over Newcastle on Tuesday night has given the Toffees new hope of a top four finish, and manager Roberto Martinez has praised midfielder Leon Osman for his part in the victory at St. James' Park, after the England international wrapped up the three points with the killer third goal.
“Leon was a true captain, a leader. He brings a real understanding of what’s needed in the game. He got himself in real awkward spaces for Newcastle to pick him up and that opens up space higher up the pitch," said Martinez.
“He was very influential in that respect and his work rate was rewarded at the end with a sensational finish. That’s Leon; leadership, knowhow of the game and being a real star with everything he does. It was a very good performance within the context [of the game] because I feel it was a phenomenal effort as a team,” added the Spaniard.
Osman, now 32, is unlikely to break back into the England squad ahead of the World Cup in Brazil, but his fellow Everton midfielder Ross Barkley has a great chance of making the final 23, and Barkley's incredible strike against the Magpies this week has tongues wagging once again - with Osman backing the youngster to make an impact at the World Cup.
"It was a stunning goal," said Osman. "He is a very powerful, quick lad. We were defending a corner, Gerard Duelofeu has got a vital flick and he just set off. When we got back to the dressing room we congratulated him. It was a great goal and a very important goal. But we didn't want to over-emphasise it. Ultimately it got us a goal on the night and we are pleased but we don't need to hype him up in our dressing room any more - everyone else can do that.
"It is our job to keep his feet on the ground. It was a good goal, he got a pat on the back and let's get on with it. He doesn't really buy into the hype. He just keeps his head down and works very hard, so all credit to him because he is going in the right direction," he added.
Meanwhile, Everton have loaned out striker Apostolos Vellios to Championship strugglers Blackpool for the rest of the season. The Greek forward has struggled to make an impact at Goodison Park this season, and the 22-year-old needs playing time to get his career back on track.