Football

Baines bullish despite absences

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Everton full back Leighton Baines is looking for the team to kick on in their Europa League campaign as they face Benfica despite the loss of almost a full team for one reason or another.

Joseph Yobo and Leon Osman are the latest absentees with head and ankle injuries that prevented them travelling to Portugal. They have joined Steven Pienaar, Phil Neville, Phil Jagielka, Mikel Arteta, Victor Anichebe and James Vaughan in the treatment room and - if that was not enough - Lucas Neill and John Heitinga are ineligible to play.

Baines said: "We have been in this situation before of missing key players, played a lot of big games without them and got a lot of success. It is something we have faced in the past and it does speak volumes about the character of the players we have. We do help each other. We also have a lot of good players."

Everton are looking for their third successive win in Group I and Baines is relishing the challenge that lies ahead.

He said: "Obviously it was important to get off to a strong start and we have managed to do that. With six points on the board we have given ourselves a chance to build on that now.

"This is a special stadium and a famous club. It is a big occasion for us to step out there in front of all our travelling fans. Hopefully we can produce the goods."

Baines believes the future is bright at the club, given the performances of youngsters Jack Rodwell and Dan Gosling.

"When you know Jack and know what he is like in training on and off the pitch it does not surprise you, " he said.

"He is a level-headed lad with a lot of ability. I am sure playing in Europe is going to stand him in good stead for future games. He is a top player. He deserves to play at this level.

"Jack and Dan were introduced last season when we were down to the bare bones. Both have matured really quickly and are important members of the squad now."

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Topics:
Europa League
Leon Osman
Joseph Yobo
James Vaughan
Football
Mikel Arteta
Lucas
Premier League
Lucas Neill
Phil Jagielka
Everton
Phil Neville
Victor Anichebe
Steven Pienaar
Leighton Baines
Dan Gosling
Jack Rodwell
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