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HE may be nicknamed “The Flying Fortress” in his native Croatia, but Nikica Jelavic has already earned himself a different moniker at Everton.
The 26-year-old has made quite an impression since arriving at Goodison Park from Rangers in January.
So much so, in fact, that Blues boss David Moyes has a new name for his £5.5m man.
“He’s a bit of a silent assassin,” says Moyes, whose side face critical league fixtures with Norwich City and Sunderland over the next three days.
“He is quite quiet. But he's got a smile on his face. I think he's enjoying his football.”
That is certainly the impression Jelavic is giving at the moment. His Goodison career was delayed by injuries and illness following his deadline-day switch from Ibrox, but he has taken no time to find his feet.
With three goals, all of them crucial, in six starts, the former Rapid Vienna man is already a key figure in Moyes plans, something the manager himself acknowledges.
“His arrival definitely has had a big effect,” he says. “Jelavic has given the players an all-round lift just because we've so badly needed a centre forward for a couple of seasons, or a different type of centre forward at least.
“And, I think he feels as if he's got something to prove as well. He's scored in the SPL, he's been in Austria before that and scored goals.
“To come into the Premier League after that, it's a step up and I think he's played as if he's had something to show.
“He's scored a few, he's missed a few but his general, all-round play has helped the team get better.”
Moyes admits the signing of Jelavic represented something of a gamble on his part.
Notoriously thorough when mulling over new signings – he did, for example, compile 24 separate reports before securing the capture of Joleon Lescott in 2006 – Moyes admits the timing of the Jelavic deal made it hard to be quite so exhaustive, but says the class of the Croatian was never an issue.
He says: “There was not as much detail because up until 28th January, or whenever it was, we wouldn't have been buying somebody of that value.
“What you've got is you've got your scouts looking all the time. I've seen him live myself a few times, so I knew roughly what I was getting.
“And obviously you're getting a Croatian international who'll go to the Euros and has got a decent record so there were others things behind him that added up.
“I actually went to see him when he was in Austria but I didn't take him. He went to Rangers after that, of course.
“(Blues coach, and Jelavic’s former Rangers team-mate) Davie Weir spoke really highly of him as well and I spoke to (ex-Gers boss) Walter Smith as well.
“We needed a centre forward, we had, sort of, £5 million to spend and we had to try and spend it as wisely as we could, so we got him.
“He's been getting these one or two chances in every game. He's not scored them all but he's been getting his one or two. But there's a sort of ticking over with him at the moment so he's been getting his goals. I've just got to hope that keeps going.”
Moyes admits there has been a degree of surprise at how quickly Jelavic has settled on Merseyside.
“It is a little bit because some of the players who have come in have taken time to settle,” he says. “Sometimes we've had to take our time to put them in.
“This one was a bit different. We've been needing (a new striker) so whoever we got was going to go straight into the team. We needed it, and Nikica's come in and done well.
“What you've got to remember as well is that he missed the first couple of games with an injury. He’s done really well.”
In the meantime, Moyes looks a man at ease with his side’s current situation.
A run of just two defeats in 15 games in all competitions, as well as the form of the likes of Jelavic and fellow January signings Steven Pienaar and Darron Gibson, has got Everton buzzing again. Blues fans are heading for Wembley for their FA Cup semi final with Liverpool in confident mood.
Before that, though, there is the business of league action. And Moyes insists that nobody’s eyes are being allowed to wander towards next weekend, or indeed towards the prospect of finishing the season above Liverpool.
“I've not considered anything like that,” he says. “All we've got to do is try and finish the season well.
“I said that if we can finish in the top half of the league, I think for Everton, it'll be a great performance this year. I still think it'll be a tough call to get that, in the top ten. So we're not looking too far ahead.
“I'm certainly not looking at finishing above any one team, I'm looking to see what Everton can do and if we can finish in the top ten I think that'll be - considering the way the season started - I think that'll be a pretty good season for us.”
To do that, they will need a good Easter.
First up is a trip to Carrow Road, to face Paul Lambert’s much-praised Norwich City. The Canaries left Goodison with a deserved point back in December, and have earned plenty of plaudits for their bold, adventurous style of play.
“I thin Paul has done a great job,” says Moyes.
"The teams who come up are not automatic favourites to go back down and you've seen that with the likes of Swansea and Norwich this season.
"Some younger coaches come in with some different styles and are brave with what they do and that is great credit to them. I don't think the managers are doing things a great deal differently, I just think they are coming in with fresh ideas.
"They are young and hungry and want to be successful and want to have longevity in the game so they know they have to get results and play in a style which will give them that chance."