REUTERS – Everton need to overcome a tough run of fixtures around Christmas and avoid last season’s meltdown during the same period, forward Steven Naismith has said.
The Toffees play five games over a hectic 15-day schedule beginning Saturday, including trips to Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur in the league, and hosting Manchester City in the League Cup semi-final.
Everton failed to win a single game in all competitions last season from mid-December till the end of January.
“I think we suffered a lot from that, going through Christmas and not picking up many points at all,” Naismith told the club’s website (www.evertonfc.com).
“That is always going to harm your chances of finishing as high as you can.
“You definitely need to be picking points up. There are a few funny results around the Christmas period and you want to be on top of them.”
The Scotland international, who scored a hat-trick against Chelsea in the league in September, said he was looking to return to the first team, having not featured in the starting line-up since Everton’s 2-0 win at Middlesbrough on Dec. 1.
“I have got to try and force my way in. I have worked hard in training, as I do all the time,” Naismith said.
“We are coming up to a busy period and the manager has been known to use his squad, so I’ll be training as hard as I can to try and force my way in.”
Everton, who are in 10th place after 17 games, travel to Tyneside to play Newcastle on Saturday, before hosting Stoke City two days later.
(Reporting by Nayan Das in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)