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Apr 1, 2013

Howard, Jagielka committed to the cause

Tim Howard and Phil Jagielka have vowed to put personal pain behind them to aid Everton's push for a Champions League place.

• O'Farrell: Everton must shed inferiority complex

Goalkeeper Howard returned to the side after more than a month out with a back injury to keep a clean sheet in Saturday's 1-0 Premier League win over Stoke.

And he was helped by centre-back Jagielka, who also made his comeback after three weeks on the sidelines with a gashed ankle.

The England international had a pain-killing injection to play, and Howard believes that shows the level of determination and spirit in David Moyes' squad.

"At other clubs, you might get certain guys saying: 'I will take another week and then come back'. But for me and Jags that never came into it - we love to pull on the shirt," Howard said.

Saturday's win leaves Everton just four points from fourth spot, which would secure a place in next season's Champions League.

Moyes' side will be a lot clearer about their chances of finishing in the top four after next Sunday's trip to third-placed Tottenham. Jagielka, though, has vowed to keep on fighting right up until the final day of the season.

"We'd like to think we can prolong the chase as long as possible," he told the Liverpool Echo. "If we're going into the final game of the season still in with a chance of Champions League football then we have to look at that as a fantastic season. Unfortunately for us it is a season when five or six teams at the top rather than two or three are performing well."

Everton have won their last three league games, and Howard feels that the momentum is with them.

"We are right there. We are breathing heavy down a few people's necks," he said. "We need a little bit of luck for those around us to drop points. But maybe we are in a position to make our own luck. People say it's daunting but it's an opportunity for us."

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