Steven Naismith says the Everton FC squad are playing for their futures at the club.
The Scotland international has no doubt that manager Roberto Martinez will wield the axe this summer, unless the players start showing major improvements in the last 10 games of the Premier League season.
Everton finished fifth last term with a record points tally, but have struggled badly this time around and sit just six points clear of the bottom three.
A crunch clash at home to Newcastle United arrives on Sunday but Everton face a Europa League tie with Dynamo Kiev at Goodison Park tonight.
The Blues have been excellent in Europe and Naismith says they cannot let standards slip when they return to domestic action this weekend – because their Goodison future could depend on it.
“Without a doubt,” Naismith said, when asked if the Everton squad were playing for their futures.
“If you are not performing then you are not going to be here very long.
“This club is ambitious and wants to go forward and I’m sure the manager will look for a replacement to do the job he wants done if you’re not doing it.
“I’d say the biggest motivation though is personal pride.
“You don’t want to be in a team that is struggling to perform every week.
“Players here have been successful and they have known difficult times as well and you want to be performing well for yourself, not just hoping it happens.”
Naismith added: “I think we do have it in us.
“The big thing is the players we have coming back from injury now and we should be able to do it.
“The players definitely feel they can and we will be ready for Sunday whatever the team is against Kiev.
“It is points that matter at this stage of the season, not performances, and we know what is expected of us.”
Naismith does not agree that winning the Europa League is the only way to give their poor season a positive slant.
But the 28-year-old acknowledges that just 28 points from 28 games is not good enough.
Everton’s Steven Naismith and Romelu Lukaku speak during a game
“I wouldn’t say we have to win the Europa League to make it a successful season,” Naismith said.
“Without the results, it has been a massive experience for the majority of the younger players in the squad and they have contributed a lot.
“That will help us going forward, and the experience of having so many games, and as a squad we believe we can cause trouble to any team left in the competition.
“I’m not dressing up what has gone on in the league.
“Everybody at the club knows it has not been good enough.
“It is not as if the performances have been terrible every week, we have been unfortunate.
“We have played well in spells and individual errors have cost us three points or getting one.
“There has been a lot of good play throughout this season and it is more the errors that have cost us.”
Naismith continued: “We are aware of the situation, the manager has made us aware of it and the older players in the squad have touched on it. Some players might think ‘It’s Everton, we won’t go down’ but we know it doesn’t work like that.
“We know we have to go out and perform. That is the goal from now until the end of the season. There are 30 points to play for in the league and we have to be up for every game.”
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