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Naismith Hails Martinez Nous

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Steven Naismith paid tribute to Roberto Martinez’s tactical shrewdness after Everton moved within four points of Arsenal with the 3-1 victory at Fulham.

Super sub Naismith emerged from the bench at half-time to inspire the Blues to a fifth successive league victory.

Martinez earned plaudits in Monday’s newspapers for the way he changed the flow of Sunday’s game by making three decisive personnel changes.

But Naismith also pointed out that a few words of advice from the Blues boss prior to his introduction helped him make such a telling impact.

The Scot scored one goal - and insists he should definitely have had another to his name.

He said: “I’d had wee bits and bobs these last three or four games but I had a decent run today. It was a bit flat in the first half but I could see there were wee pockets in front of the back four.

“When I came on that was what the manager wanted me to exploit and that’s what I tried to do. I managed to contribute with a couple of goals.

“I’ve not seen it again but it was between the posts so I’m still claiming it! It was one of those, I saw it come off the defender’s head, I followed it all the way and just tried to get it on target. Fortunately enough it went in and gave us the spark we needed to push on."

The former Rangers man added: “Fulham in the first half were the better team. They had the better chances and throughout the game I thought they played well.

“We knew that when Tim made some great saves we had to capitalise to make a statement on the league, and we managed to do that by getting some goals late on.

“I’ve contributed, Kevin has come off the bench and contributed, and so did Aiden . We’ve not got the biggest squad but the manager has made it clear he is going to use everyone and you have got to be ready.”

Sunday’s victory has put Everton within striking distance of fourth-placed Arsenal.

And Naismith says the Blues are ready to take the battle for Champions League qualification right down to the wire.

"We’ve believed all season that we can compete for Champions League football or European football and that’s got to be the aim still," he said.

“We had a month where we had bad results against Chelsea and Spurs but we have bounced back with five wins. The confidence is strong in the squad and we need to keep following that on with good results.”

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