STEVEN NAISMITH believes Nikica Jelavic can cope with the pressure of firing Everton back into contention for Europe.
David Moyes believes the Croatian’s form will be crucial to whether the sixth-placed Blues can finish this season strongly, and his former Rangers team-mate is confident he can stay mentally strong as he bids to find the goal-scoring form which made him an instant success on Merseyside after arriving in January 2012.
Jelavic has not scored in the league since December 9, and drew another blank at Carrow Road on Saturday as Everton conceded two late goals to crash to a 2-1 defeat which cast further doubt on their top four credentials.
“There’s no doubt he can handle the pressure,” said the Scotland international forward.
“If you look at how the games are going now the ball just isn’t breaking to him. It’s not about him not trying or being lazy.
“There were a couple of times against Norwich again when the ball didn’t fall to him. But his other parts of his games are working well.
“He put a few balls across the face of goal for other people, and he’ll always give you that if not the goals he usually scores as well.
“You could look at it that way, but the goal came from Ossie bursting a gut to get into the space which Jela had created. That was where the goal came from.
“That’s one thing about this club – it’s never about one individual, it’s about the team. If the ball isn’t dropping to Jela he’ll become the creator which is what the manager would expect.”
Naismith admitted Everton were angry at themselves for the defensive failings which allowed Kai Kamara to level for Norwich, and then Grant Holt to score in the 94th minute.
“I think we are disappointed we didn’t deal with the balls into the box,” he said.
“We’ve been working on it in training because we’ve lost a few late goals that way. It’s disappointing but we need to move on.
“We controlled it for the first hour of the game and got the goal but the big thing is we didn’t get the second to kill the game off.
You’ve got to credit Norwich for the way they fought until the end.
“We knew it was going to be a tough place to come but we felt like we were in control.
“The manager was disappointed we didn’t have many shots in the second half or take our chances.
“The amount of comfortable possession we had we should have got the second.”
Naismith, who had a rare start for the Toffees in East Anglia, admits the defeat has hurt the club’s Champions League ambitions.
He added: “When you drop points it gives the teams around you an opportunity and that’s what’s happened.
“It will make it tougher but we just need to go into the next league game hoping the reverse happens.
“The Oldham game will be another tough game but we’re at home and with the fans behind us we’ll hopefully put on a professional performance.”