SYLVAIN DISTIN admits his recent spell on the bench has made him more determined than ever to extend his Everton career.
Distin, who turns 35 next month, is in the final year of his present contract with Goodison manager David Moyes keen to offer the centre-back a new deal.
The veteran Frenchman was nevertheless demoted to a substitute role for last month’s Premier League games against Sunderland and Reading before winning back his place.
And the defender believes the experience on the sidelines has convinced him he is not ready to even consider hanging up his boots.
“I’m working hard every day not to be on the bench, but we have four great centre-backs,” said Distin.
“We have an England international (Phil Jagielka), a Dutch international who played in the final of the World Cup (John Heitinga) and then you have me and (Shane) Duffy.
“It’s tough competition but it is healthy competition. We enjoy playing with each other and there is no tension between us.
“This can only make us better and we know that we have to perform week in week out, otherwise there will be another two players who will be picked.
“Being on the bench, I didn’t like it and I think it’s my longest spell on the bench since I started football.
“So, if you ask me, I did hate it. But I did try to take the positives out of it and it made me realise that I’m not ready to stop at all. I’m not ready to be on the bench, and that’s a good thing.”
Distin impressed in helping Everton earn a deserved 1-1 draw at his former club Manchester City on Saturday.
It was a seventh stalemate in nine games for Moyes’s men, prompting them to slide to sixth in the Premier League table.
Everton, though, are six points better off than at this stage last season and can surpass fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur with victory when the teams meet at Goodison this Sunday.
And Distin added: “I know a lot of people will moan at us for not winning games but they have to remember where we were at this time last season.
“We haven’t conceded many goals, we are scoring more and we are sitting in a comfortable position.
“I was asked before Arsenal about whether we have a point to prove. We don’t because we prove a point every week.
“People have to be realistic. Some people might think I’m being pessimistic but I’m not – I want to win every single game and I want to play in the Champions League, who doesn’t?
“But we have to realise that at the moment we are doing really well.”