Oct 132014

Christian Atsu can flourish for Everton in the second half of the season after fully adapting to the Premier League, predicts Roberto Martinez.

The on-loan winger has struggled to make an impact so far, starting just one league game and only providing Blues fans with fleeting glimpses of his potential from the bench.

But Martinez believes the 22-year-old, who he signed from Chelsea in the summer after being impressed with his displays for Ghana at the World Cup, will justify his faith once he becomes accustomed to the physical rigours of the English top flight.

Atsu joined Chelsea in summer 2013 but spent all of last term on loan at Dutch club Vitesse, and the Toffees boss urged fans to be patient with him.

He said: “We need to give him a little bit of time to adapt to the physicality of the Premier League just like any player but especially a winger. In other leagues referees allow less contact and they are a bit more protected.

“But I think the way he has adapted to the way we want to play so far has been impressive. He’s an intelligent footballer.

“It’s just making sure I can give him the right introduction to his role. With the minutes he’s had so far in the Europa League and other games he’s done well.

“I expect him to be himself in the second half of the season and he can be a very important player for us.

To be left-footed in that wing position with a real penetrative edge like he has can give you a big advantage.”

With Kevin Mirallas likely to miss the next four weeks as he recovers from a torn hamstring, Atsu might hope for further opportunities to show what he can do on the flanks.

And Steven Naismith insists Everton’s squad has the right strength in depth to deal with any injury crisis.

The Blues have been without as many as five first-team players in recent weeks, but Naismith has backed himself and his teammates to overcome a testing period.

He said: “I hold high standards of myself and I expect to deliver them every week, so it doesn’t really matter whether there is a full squad fit and ready to play or if we have a few injuries.

“You see that on the training pitch as well – the standard of training is so high and that means there is always a lot of competition for places, which is good for us.”

Naismith also believes the opportunity for fringe players to play more minutes can work in the Blues’ favour, adding: “As a squad, we believe that anyone can come in, contribute and do what the manager’s asking.

“I think for the players who maybe haven’t had as much game time, injuries mean they can sit up and see it as their chance to get a run of games.”

And the forward, who has notched four goals in six Premier League appearances so far this term, says he has been pleased with his performances.

“I’ve been happy with my form so far,” the 28-year-old continued. “I’ve managed to contribute with goals and play that’s led up to goals.

“Overall it has been a good start for me, but my mentality is that you’re only as good as your last game.

“You’ve got to work as hard as you can going into every game, because you can find yourself out of the team as soon as your form drops.”

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