DAVID MOYES has challenged Jermaine Beckford to prove he has the brains to match his goal scoring prowess.
The Everton manager believes his summer signing’s confidence has been boosted after the late equaliser against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last Saturday.
But Moyes was frustrated when Beckford failed to pass to Jack Rodwell in the dying stages of the game, when the midfielder was poised for a simple finish which could have secured all three points.
Now the Scot wants Beckford, 26, to show more awareness and better decision-making – as he ponders whether to hand him a start against Wigan Athletic at Goodison today.
He said: “That goal will be important for Jermaine Beckford because it was against the champions. It wasn’t just any goal, and he’ll feel better about that.
“But there was one later on where the boy could have played Jack Rodwell in for the winner and he shot over. He’s developing and ballooning it over the bar when we can go through for the winner isn’t good enough for this level.
“We need to help him do that final bit, but he’s improving all the time. I hope he sees that himself, and his link-up play has to become better.
“He is getting chances. But you won’t always get three of four in a game – you will get one in the Premier League, and you might be fortunate to get two. You need to be clinical.
“Or you might get opportunities to play other people in for a chance, because when you’re a forward there’ll be support and people over-lapping so it’ll be a case of, can he slide someone else in on goal for an easy finish? That’s the part of his game he needs to keep working on.”
Moyes credits Beckford, who has scored twice so far this season, with the best movement of any of his strikers.
He said: “His movement is as good as anyone I’ve seen, and it’s the best of any of our strikers. His movement outside the box is good too.
“I always hoped he would give us that. He’s our highest centre forward goal scorer with two goals at the moment.
“I hope the step-up is dawning on him. For a centre forward at this level you have to be good at everything; holding the ball up, running, heading.
“It’s difficult not to have it all good. But he has an ability to put the ball in the net, the most important thing of all.”
Moyes has injury doubts over Steven Pienaar and John Heitinga today, with both having to undergo late fitness tests.
Tony Hibbert is also unlikely to play a part, but Leon Osman, who made the bench last week at Chelsea after an ankle injury, is nearing a first team return.
Meanwhile, Everton are believed to have invited Belarus defender Dzmitry Verkhovtsov to train with them for a week-long trial.
The 6ft 3in centre-back, who plays for Naftan Novopolotsk, was put through his paces by Scottish club Celtic last year but failed to clinch a £500,000 move.
He instead moved to Latvian side Ventspils in January but the deal was cancelled in a contractual dispute.
The 24-year-old has become a regular at the heart of Belarus’s defence since making his international debut in 2008 and is highly regarded in eastern Europe.