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Jan 22, 2013

Neville glad for Mirallas return

Phil Neville believes that Kevin Mirallas' return to fitness will give Everton a huge boost as they chase European football.

• Blog: Tweaks could help Jelavic

A hamstring injury had restricted Mirallas to just 45 minutes of football in two months before he appeared as a substitute in the 0-0 draw at Southampton on Monday night.

And Everton captain Neville reckons that the forward, who has been used largely as a winger by manager David Moyes this season, offers an extra attacking dimension.

"It was great to see him back," Neville told Everton's website. "It showed when Kevin came on, when their defenders dropped off a little bit, that they knew there was a player with pace. He brought others into the game."

The Belgium international, 25, initially suffered his hamstring problem during the 2-2 draw with Liverpool on October 28. He managed to play on with it at first, but was forced off during the 2-1 win over Sunderland on November 10.

An attempted comeback against Tottenham on December 9 then had to be aborted after 45 minutes of another 2-1 win.

Mirallas, Nikica Jelavic and Victor Anichebe all had chances to win Monday night's match for Everton, who were stronger in the second half after struggling in the first at St Mary's.

The draw, Everton's 11th in 23 Premier League games this season, has left them in fifth place, three points outside the Champions League qualification spots.

"We were so lucky to come in at half time 0-0," Neville added. "If the score had been two or three-nil to them, I don't think we would have had too much to complain about.

"But in the second half we played a lot better. We got control of the game and I thought that if there was going to be one team that would go on and win the game, it was us.

"We had some good chances - Victor, Jelavic and Mirallas all had good chances. But football's like that - no two halves are ever the same."

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