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Everton Focus - Leon Osman, Moyes' quiet hero

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By Andrew Tuft

Friday 05 October 2012

Amid the praise coming the way of a number of Everton’s players during the team’s excellent start to the season, one key individual has been sorely underrepresented. The likes of Leighton Baines, Steven Pienaar, Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic regularly grab the headlines, but for Leon Osman, it is a rare day indeed when he is the centre of attention.

Leon Osman

The Daily Mirror attempted to push Osman to the fore and make his case for an England call-up last month, while the player himself told the Daily Telegraph that while he has not yet given up hope of making his national team bow, he has no qualms about being overlooked either. That kind of reasonable response matches what Osman displays on the field - a calm head, a sure touch and reliability, all arguably characteristics the England team could benefit from having a little more of.

According to Who Scored, Osman has a pass success rate of over 89% from his six league appearances this season, a statistic that compares well with, for example, Michael Carrick, the Manchester United midfielder who is part of Roy Hodgson’s thinking. Carrick comes in at 89% as well, having played the same number of games. Perhaps tellingly, Carrick has attempted almost twice as many passes as Osman but evidently has not been so accurate with them.

Carrick makes for an interesting comparison to Osman, since they are of a similar age - both 31 - and while ostensibly Carrick plays a deeper role to Osman, Osman is actually at his most effective in the centre of midfield tidying up play. He may lack the physical presence of Carrick but by the same token now defers to the more dynamic Pienaar and Fellaini when Jelavic looks for midfield support. Osman got his first league goal of the season against Southampton but is hardly prolific, never having hit more than seven in one campaign.

Having passed 30, however, Osman is likely to fall victim to the same thinking that has seen Rio Ferdinand cast aside. Gary Neville revealed that Ferdinand was out of the team because Hodgson did not want players of his age sitting in reserve, while if there is anything England have in abundance now it is central midfielders.

Osman would need either an extensive injury crisis or a run of unparalleled form to force his way into the national team, and although Evertonians might well call for his inclusion, more than a few will be quietly pleased he can focus solely on his club form.

A product of the Everton youth system and, as such, one of the club’s longest-serving players, Osman is well-placed to judge the current standard of this team. He told the Telegraph it is the best of the Moyes era, thanks to the high calibre of player at the club these days. If that is so, and few will argue against that right now, then it is as much down to Osman as any of his more high profile teammates.

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