Everton boss David Moyes has reassured Leighton Baines he has a bright future ahead of him at Goodison Park.
Baines has endured a frustrating time at Everton since his summer switch from Wigan struggling to hold down a regular place in the starting XI.
Joleon Lescott has been keeping Baines out of the side by playing at left-back, but Moyes has spoken to Baines to assure him he is key to his plans.
Unfortunate"At times this season, we have struggled with the stature of the team and it has been unfortunate that Leighton has been the one to suffer," Moyes told the Liverpool Echo.
"It's not got anything to do with how he has played or anything else. We have just wanted a bit more stature at the back in certain matches and we've played Joleon at left-back.
"It might be that we need to find players with bigger stature elsewhere to get Leighton into the team again much more in the future.
"But I have spoken with him a couple of times and explained the situation.
"He knows what we think about him and he will be here for many years to come."
ReliefMeanwhile, Steven Pienaar has spoken of his relief after signing for Everton on a permanent basis.
The South African international signed a three-year deal at Goodison Park earlier this week after a successful loan spell from Borussia Dortmund.
Pienaar was delighted to have resolved his future and is looking forward to the next three years on Merseyside.
"It has been on my mind for quite a while and I just wanted to get it over with," Pienaar told the club's official website.
"As a person you always want to know where your future lies. If you are living in an uncertain world you don't know what is going to happen.
"Now that is behind me and I hope I can just concentrate on football.
"I have signed a deal for three years so I am looking forward to the next three years at the club."