Thursday 29 September 2016

Steven Naismith considering Everton future

Published 09/12/2015 | 16:31

Steven Naismith admits he has been left frustrated by his stint on the Toffees' substitute bench
Steven Naismith admits he has been left frustrated by his stint on the Toffees' substitute bench

Steven Naismith admits he may have to consider a future away from Everton if he cannot force his way back into Roberto Martinez's plans.

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The Scotland international's season has been filled with frustration so far having been forced to accept a bit-part role for the Toffees.

He has started just four Barclays Premier League matches and has not featured at all in the top flight since a 3-0 home defeat to Manchester United in mid-October.

However, Martinez is on record saying he does not want to lose the former Rangers attacker and even knocked back an £8million deadline-day bid from Norwich earlier this term.

But with the January transfer window set to open in three weeks' time, Naismith confessed the subject of a move may crop up again.

The 29-year-old, who was back in Glasgow to sponsor a Christmas lunch organised by the Loaves and Fishes charity for the city's homeless, said: " When Norwich were interested in me in the summer, it was the manager who said he didn't want it to happen. But as a player you need to think about all your options.

"The manager said we'd speak about it again come January time so we'll do that.

"At the moment I'm just concentrating on playing my football as part of a great squad and hopefully if I get my chance to play again, I take it.

"But you've got to weigh up all your options and see where you're at.

"At the start of the season I wasn't playing then got thrown on nine minutes into the Chelsea game and not many people would've seen me scoring a hat-trick. That shows you how quickly it can change."

His Goodison treble against Jose Mourinho's Blues in September was the undoubted highlight of Naismith's campaign.

But for a player who has enjoyed being a regular starter at every club he has played at since breaking through the ranks at Kilmarnock, he admits he has found it "challenging" having been forced to play understudy to the likes of former Barcelona young gun Gerard Deulofeu and England midfield prospect Ross Barkley.

With his side currently unbeaten in seven, though, Naismith knows the situation is unlikely to change.

"We've got a squad that is full of unbelievable young talent and when you're not playing, it's amazing to sit and watch these guys play with no fear," said the Scot, who has tasted just four minutes of action in the last six weeks.

"But on the other side of it I'm frustrated that I can't get into the team. Other times I've been out of the team it's been because of injuries - but this time I'm fit every week, so it's hard to deal with.

"However, as long as this good run goes I'm just going to have to get used to being on the bench."

On top of his club woes, Naismith faced the pain of seeing his hopes of reaching his first-ever major international tournament evaporate when Scotland failed to escape their Euro 2016 qualifying group.

A round of national soul searching followed that disaster but Naismith is not ready to turn his back on Gordon Strachan's squad as he prepares to enter his 30s next September.

He said: "I've not really thought about ending my Scotland career. I've enjoyed it all from my first cap against the Faroes back in 2007 right up until now.

"The last campaign was probably the cruellest campaign but we still believe that we can do something as a squad.

"There are maybe a few players that will have a look at their international career and think I've got a decision to make but the majority are coming into their prime so I can't imagine there will be too many walking away.

"I don't want to finish my career without having played at a major tournament so that is definitely a driving factor.

"The other Home Nations will be going to the Euros next summer and it's frustrating that we won't when we felt we were just as good, so that has got to drive us on in the future."

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