LEON OSMAN admitted losing Sylvain Distin to illness before kick-off dealt a blow to Everton’s hopes of ending their Old Trafford drought.

The Blues were consigned to only their fourth defeat of the season at Old Trafford, as Manchester United took advantage of their defensive vulnerability to score twice in the first half.

David Moyes’ preparations were harmed when Distin had to be withdrawn during the warm-up after being taken ill, and Osman believes the unexpected switch was a significant setback as the Blues looked to end a 20-year winless streak on United’s home turf.

He said: “It’s always disappointing to lose a player in the warm-up. It was one of those things – he was too ill to play so we couldn’t send him out there.

“It probably affected us a little bit but that’s not the type of thing we can moan about, we’re paid to go out there and play football and we tried to do that.

“United are more than likely going to win the title. They’re 12 points ahead of their nearest rivals and we came to their place and outplayed them for large periods of the game so we’ll certainly look to take the positives. Their class showed through and their top players took their chances. It’s disappointing but we’ve got to take the positives into next week’s game.”

Osman insisted Everton cannot expect their annual surge in form as the season nears its conclusion to happen automatically.

“We can’t guarantee that we’re going to start performing in the second half of the season,” said the England midfielder. “It’s not a given, we’ve got to make it happen on the pitch. The scoreline and result went against us but for large parts we were playing really well.

“We had a couple of chances but got hit on the break at Old Trafford which shows where the game was at the time.”

Osman believes that the strong starting line-up fielded by Alex Ferguson was testament to Everton’s recent competitiveness with the Red Devils.

He added: “I don’t think they’ve ever done that against us. In the past when you look back and they’ve had big games on the horizon, Sir Alex Ferguson has always put strong teams out which I suppose is testament to us.

“We’ve got to go to Oldham and do a job now. We can’t start thinking about anything beyond that.”