The former Whites man who could help to relegate Leeds United from the Premier League

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As a revived Everton side climb clear of the drop zone, there's an ex-Leeds United man among them who could play a part in relegating his former side.

Fabian Delph has been something of a hero at Goodison Park at the tail end of this season, swooping in at the eleventh hour to play a significant role in the Toffees' fight for survival after spending the majority of the season side-lined with injury.

The Bradford-born midfielder joined Leeds United at the age of 11 and rose through the ranks of the academy, captaining the Under 23s side before being handed his senior bow at the age of 18.

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Delph's League One performances for the Whites, perhaps especially his habit of scoring eye-catching goals, caught the attention of England Under 21s manager Stuart Pearce, who gave the youngster his international debut in November 2008, and of a number of Premier League managers looking to mine the lower leagues for sparkling talent.

But the youngster stayed loyal to United, putting in a host of Player of the Season-worthy performances as Leeds almost achieved promotion to the Championship in 2009 before exiting to join top-flight club Aston Villa that summer.

Now, at Everton, the former Leeds academy product is playing a key hand in the Blues' revival. Having been blighted by injury since his arrival at Goodison Park in 2019, the midfielder has only made 34 Premier League appearances across three seasons, but now he is pulling out top performances when his side need him the most.

After recovering from a hamstring injury which kept him out for nearly four months, Delph made his first appearance under new boss Frank Lampard in the Blues' 1-0 win over Manchester United, the victory which kickstarted Everton's upturn following a devastating defeat to relegation rivals Burnley.

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Everton midfielder Fabian Delph holds off a challenge from Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes. Pic: Clive Brunskill.Everton midfielder Fabian Delph holds off a challenge from Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes. Pic: Clive Brunskill.
Everton midfielder Fabian Delph holds off a challenge from Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes. Pic: Clive Brunskill.

After Lampard's January appointment had begun to look like a hopeless stab in the dark, with seven of his first nine games ending in defeat, the Merseyside club have since enjoyed a turnaround in fortunes, with Sunday's win at Leicester City - their third league victory in the past five fixtures - taking them out of the drop zone and above Burnley and Leeds.

At the King Power Stadium, Delph achieved an astonishing pass rate close to 95% as he kept total control over the middle of the park. Maturity told as the Premier League stalwart flaunted his experience at a crucial moment in the fight for survival, while Leeds' own squad has been stripped of its key senior players - with Adam Forshaw, Stuart Dallas and Luke Ayling all having kicked their last ball this season.

Leading both Leeds and Burnley by one point, Everton could take a significant step toward safety if they win their game in hand against already-relegated Watford on Wednesday. Lampard's side then face games against in-form Brentford and Crystal Palace before travelling to Arsenal on the final day of the season.