Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard has claimed Leighton Baines is unfortunate not to be in the running for the PFA Player of the Year award.

American custodian Howard – who recently made his 300th Premier League appearance – says Baines is central to the Toffees' success this season.

The 6ft 3in stopper told the official Everton website: "He's our key cog."

When asked whether his teammate could consider himself hard done by he said: "I think that's right."

Ex-Wigan defender Baines has produced a string of consistent displays in 2012/13, which have helped keep Everton in the hunt for Champions League football.

The performances of Marouane Fellaini and Kevin Mirallas have drawn plaudits in recent weeks, but Howard believes the England international does not get the credit he deserves.

"Without Bainesy this team doesn't go," he concluded. "But it's hard sometimes for people on the outside to see that."

Manchester United duo Michael Carrick and Robin Van Persie will be present at Sunday's award ceremony, along with Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale.

Eden Hazard and Juan Mata – both of Chelsea – complete the shortlist, with the winner due to be announced imminently.

Despite none of his Everton colleagues being selected among the top six Premier League players, Howard was prepared to forecast the winner.

"I think Gareth Bale might just nick it, but we'll see," he said. "Obviously Van Persie turns on the style as well and has won the title, so it will be interesting and close."


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