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The Frenchman has praised the playmaker's impact on return following a year away from the club and says he is pleased to play again following a bout of injury

Sylvain Distin has hailed the return to Everton of Steven Pienaar, claiming the club never really replaced the South African.

Pienaar departed for Tottenham in last season’s January transfer window for a fee reportedly in the region of £3 million, following four years at Goodison Park.

However, the 29-year-old recently returned to Merseyside on a six-month loan deal, having mustered just ten Premier League appearances in his year at White Hart Lane, a decision Distin is delighted with.

The 34-year-old told reporters: “We really missed him when he left and we never really had a player to replace him.

“He just always wants the ball, even if he has a player sat on his back he wants the ball. That makes it easier for us at the back – we kept the ball a lot better [against Wigan, Pienaar’s first game since returning] and that was largely down to him.

“He’s a great player.”

The 1-1 draw at the DW Stadium also marked Distin’s first game for the club since hobbling off in a 2-0 defeat to Tottenham in January and the Frenchman says it was good to be back.

He continued: “I felt good. The end of the game was tough because I have not played much football lately.

“I had an injury and then came back and had another injury and that is the first time I have had two injuries in a season.

“So I was a long time out and it felt good to be back but it was very cold, there was a lot of running and I am 34 now!”

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