Everton manager David Moyes admits his side are missing the creative edge provided by forward Kevin Mirallas as he continues his recovery from injury.
The Belgium international is sidelined with a hamstring problem picked up in October after initially returning to action too early. Moyes believes the 25-year-old's absence is taking its toll on his side as they push for a top-four Premier League finish this season.
He told the Daily Mirror: "We've missed Mirallas giving us another edge. "It might be that we've not really flowed as I would have liked attacking wise. "It's shown in one or two results. We've missed him too long. It's a problem. "He's probably missed the bulk of it, 10 or 12 weeks.
He was a big part of what we achieved in that early part of the season when we were at our best and played some good stuff." Monday night's clash with Southampton will come too soon for Mirallas but Moyes says his recovery is on course, adding:
"He is getting close."Meanwhile, Saints fans are planning a protest on Monday night following the sacking of manager Nigel Adkins on Friday, with Argentinian Mauricio Pochettino appointed as his successor.
Moyes said of the development: "It could benefit us, but will probably be in support of Nigel."