LEON OSMAN will become the latest Everton FC player to commit his long-term future to the club – as Thomas Hitzlsperger signed in at Goodison for the remainder of the season.
Osman has been rewarded for his consistently impressive form this campaign with the offer of a contract extension.
Phil Jagielka and Seamus Coleman recently put pen to paper on lengthy new deals, while Sylvain Distin is expected to agree to stay at Goodison for a further 12 months.
Osman, who will mark the 10th anniversary of his Everton debut when David Moyes’s side entertain Swansea City this afternoon, earned his first England cap in November.
And Moyes said: “We are giving Ossie a new contract because he is such a valuable player who can play two or three roles, and if he stays free of injury he can go on for some years yet.
“We are hopeful there will be a deal with Osman and Distin. You have to make sure you have within your group players you can rely on, and with those two, we have got that.
“We have done well in ensuring we have a group of players here we can rely on.”
While planning for the future, Moyes had also strengthened his squad for this campaign with Hitzlsperger’s stay extended until the end of the season.
The German midfiedler, having been without a club since leaving Wolfsburg last summer, signed a short-term contract in October that saw him through to this month.
The 30-year-old former Aston Villa and West Ham United player has made seven appearances for the Goodison outfit so far and, asked about Hitzlsperger's future, Moyes said: “Thomas is going to stay until the end of the season. He wants to play, like everybody else.
“We've needed him and we will continue to need him with the games we have got in the second half of the season.”
The decision to keep Hitzlsperger allowed Moyes to yesterday give the green light to Ross Barkley joining npower Championship side Leeds United on a one-month loan deal.
Barkley spent a successful two-month spell at Sheffield Wednesday earlier this season, playing 13 times and scoring four goals.
However, the 19-year-old has been restricted to two substitute appearances for Everton this season, the most recent of which was in the December 28 defeat to Chelsea.
“I was thinking about letting Ross (Barkley) go out on loan and Thomas' experience allowed me to do that,” said Moyes. “I just felt that keeping him was important.
“When we brought Ross back from Sheffield Wednesday, I said that if he wasn’t getting enough games then I would put him back out on loan.
“He’s trained with us for a couple of months since he has been back but I want to keep his development going. He’s joining a really good club, a club that plays in front of big gates and he will get a chance to play in big matches.
“If you play for Leeds United, every game is a big game. That’s important for Ross and part of his development. We send him out for a month and if we require him between now and the end of the season we are able to get him back.”
Leighton Baines is expected to be available for today’s visit of the Swans despite a niggling ankle injury, while Steven Pienaar and John Heitinga should return after sitting out Monday’s FA Cup third round win at Cheltenham Town.
However, Tony Hibbert, Darron Gibson and Kevin Mirallas all remain sidelined.