Toffees boss praises off-form front-man.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez has offered his backing to out-of-form striker Nikica Jelavic, ESPN reports.
The Croatian striker has failed to reach the form that saw him make a fantastic start to life in the Premier League, when he netted 11 goals in his first 16 games after making the move from Rangers for £5.5m in January 2012, though Martinez does not blame him for his side’s lack of goals.
After drawing two games in a row 0-0, the new Toffees boss moved to bring in Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku in on loan for the season, making Jelavic’s place in the side look less certain.
However, the former Wigan manager praised the 28-year-old for his performances this season, saying he has been instrumental in creating so many chances for the team, even if they haven’t so far managed to put them away.
“He has been in the right frame of mind. He’s been working extremely hard for the team,” Martinez said.
“I don’t think it comes down to one individual. In the three league games we’ve played already, we’ve done enough to win them.
“The difference is that we haven’t been able to score goals. I don’t think that responsibility should come down to one player.
“I do feel that Niki has been working really, really hard. We’ve created enough chances, and he’s been pivotal in that. He’s created a lot in front of goal.”
Everton will have to rely on the services of Jelavic again this weekend, with loan signing Lukaku ineligible to play against parent club Chelsea, who are the next side to visit Goodison Park
Though Martinez added that he feels the presence of Lukaku will benefit the club’s other players in the long-term, placing him up there as one of the best strikers in Europe at the moment.
“Romelu has been a really exciting signing for us,” said the Spaniard. “He’s young, powerful, strong, very clever with his movement and he’s a clinical finisher.
“I don’t think you will see many better strikers in European football than Romelu. It’s good for the team.
“And if it’s good for the team, it’s good for Niki and Arouna, even though they’re competing against each other to fill that number nine role.”