NIKICA Jelavic’s form will make or break Everton’s season, admits David Moyes.
The Blues boss is desperately hoping his struggling striker recaptures his prolific edge in time to fire the club into Europe.
Jelavic has not scored in the Premier League since his late winner against Spurs on December 9, and Moyes believes that the Croatian’s luck must turn if this season is to be a success.
The former Rangers forward will get the chance to lead the line against Norwich at Carrow Road today, and Moyes said: “Undoubtedly he can be the difference for us between now and the end of the season.
“I think that if he fires again and scores we can have a really strong end to the season.
“Ultimately if he doesn’t then you know it could be hard going between now and the end. We are going to have to keep grinding results out and plugging away.
“Last year at this time of year nearly everything he touched went into the net. I do think that you need your forward to be in good form, so we hope we can get him back into some level of where he was before.”
Moyes admits that the 27-year-old’s barren spell is certain to have knocked his confidence – even if he doesn’t quite realise it.
“I don’t really have any great thought on it,” he said of the man he signed for £5m in January 2012. “I just hope he can find his way again. It is always confidence in things like this but sometimes you don’t realise that until you come back into form.
“You think ‘Look what I am doing and where I was’. You don’t realise until you come back into it.
“How we finish the season will have a lot to do with how Nikica Jelavic performs and scores.
“We need his goals and performances as we do with Kevin Mirallas. His form at the start of the season was very good, he has not quite reached that since he came back and we could do with both those players helping us in this part of the season.”
Moyes insists that Jelavic, who retains the full faith of the Goodison dressing room, has shown signs of rediscovering his form after a brief period of being excluded from the starting line-up.
He added: “We are encouraging him. He has missed a few games out to see whether he needed a rest or a breather and I think he is showing signs.
“He missed a couple against Oldham but in a way that was a good sign because he hadn’t had many misses recently so from that point of view I think it was a good sign that he was beginning to get in the positions again and have chances to score.
“Obviously we do all the things to try and make sure when he gets the opportunities he takes them.
“But he is a great lad around the place, a pleasure to work with, he is liked by everybody, he is top boy, he really is.”