Nikola Vlasic feels he has made the necessary adaptations to English football, insisting “next season will be my season” at Everton.
The 20-year-old Croatian made his 24th appearance of the campaign – and his first start since the mid-January draw with West Brom - when playing 75 minutes in the 2-0 win over Huddersfield Town on Saturday.
Vlasic caught the eye in the victory over the Terriers, almost marking the display with a goal inside the first 60 seconds of the second half when he created space in the penalty area before firing a low drive at keeper Jonas Lossl.
The Blues forward admitted he needed to grow into the game, having played just three minutes since that draw with the Baggies, but is confident the experience he has gained since his move from Hajduk Split in August will serve him well next season.
“I enjoyed it,” Vlasic said of the contest at the John Smith’s Stadium. “It was a hard game. In the first half it was so tough but when we scored it gave confidence to the whole team.
“If you are not in the team, it is up to you to work hard and wait for your chance. Of course you expect that competition for places. With so many good players, you need to fight for your position. I expected that and I knew it would be hard. But I think better days are coming for me.
“I was always training hard, waiting for my chance. When I played before I thought I played well and I think I have adapted well enough to English football. Of course I can be better but this is my first season here and it was always going to be hard coming into the Premier League.
“But I hope next season will be my season.”
Goals from Cenk Tosun and Idrissa Gana Gueye secured the Toffees their win in Yorkshire, with the result tightening their hold on eighth place in the Premier League table.
The win made it three unbeaten on the road for Sam Allardyce's men, who have collected 14 points from the past 21 available and, since the 2-0 victory over Huddersfield in the reverse fixture at Goodison on 2 December, have the sixth highest points haul in the Premier League, behind the current top five clubs.
Everton face Southampton at Goodison Park this Saturday before ending the season at West Ham United a week later, and Vlasic hopes to build on the back-to-back wins Allardyce’s side secured over Newcastle and Huddersfield.
“We want to finish the season strongly by winning the next two games,” added the Croatia international. “We feel our confidence is much bigger than before.
“Even when we have difficult moments – like the first half against Huddersfield when they pressed us – we know we can create chances and score goals.”