ROYSTON Drenthe must fight to prove he is still worth a place in Everton’s midfield in the wake of Steven Pienaar’s return, says John Heitinga.
Heitinga, 28, believes fellow Dutchman Drenthe is an exciting talent with plenty still to offer at Goodison, but warned he must knuckle down and respond in the right way to Pienaar’s arrival.
On-loan midfielder Drenthe, 24, has mostly been deployed on the left flank by David Moyes this season, and the return of South African international Pienaar presents a threat to his chance of winning a regular place in the starting-line-up.
But Heitinga says the competition in Everton’s squad means nobody can take their place for granted. He said: “Royston has got some skills but in the end you need to show them on the pitch. He has got everything to be a successful football player.
“I know it’s maybe a bit harder now because Steven is back and playing in the same spot, but still everybody needs to fight for their position in the first 11. Each of us must do that.”
Heitinga, who has 72 caps for the Netherlands, admits he did not know a lot about Drenthe, who has made one appearance for Bert van Marwijk’s side, before he arrived on loan from Real Madrid in the summer.
“Roy is younger than me,” he added. “We were at two different clubs and from two different academies. I was already playing in the first team at Ajax when he was at Feyenoord. He only had one season there.”
Tickets are still available for the game against Chelsea at Goodison Park tomorrow. Prices start from £33 for adults and £16.50 for juniors. Call 0871 663 1878, or visit evertonfc.com/eticketing.