Alex Iwobi says he is “getting better every day” under the tutelage of Carlo Ancelotti – and the forward is keen to “get in on the act” after watching fellow widemen Theo Walcott and Bernard score in Everton’s past two games.
Iwobi missed six weeks after injuring his hamstring against former club Arsenal back in December and confessed his period out “felt like a year”.
He returned for Everton’s rollercoaster 3-2 victory at Watford this month – when Walcott struck the decisive goal in stoppage time – and is aiming for a start at his old Emirates Stadium stomping ground when the Blues tackle Arsenal on Sunday.
And Iwobi insists the blend of Ancelotti’s individual coaching and the decorated manager’s preference for narrow wingers are combining to unlock the player’s attacking talent.
“I have grown up playing on the left or as a number 10 and he has combined the two [in one position],” Iwobi told evertonfc.com.
“It feels natural and I am comfortable in the system, it has been bringing the best from me in training.
“The way he [Ancelotti] tells me to come inside is helping my body position, so I receive the ball in a better place [on the field].
“It means my first touch takes me where I should go and I can come infield at the right time to be free and able to turn and play forward.
“He is helping me a lot and I am benefiting in training.
“I feel I am getting better every day with him.”
Iwobi signed a five-year deal when he joined Everton from boyhood club Arsenal on transfer deadline day back in August.
He has made 21 appearances and scored on his first two starts for the Club.
The 23-year-old’s bright beginning to his Everton career was disrupted when he hurt himself early in the meeting with Arsenal on the day of Ancelotti’s appointment as boss.
He worked like fury to get back ahead of time to impress his new manager and after an impressive display at Watford is fixing his sights on hitting the net for the first time since his Goodison Park debut against Wolverhampton Wanderers on 1 September.
Iwobi was on the bench when Everton finished for the winter break with a 3-1 success over Crystal Palace and saw Bernard net for the second time as many appearances.
Over and above his desire to join Walcott and Bernard on the scoresheet, however, the Nigeria international wants to have a big say in Everton continuing a rich run of form which has yielded 22 points from 11 matches.
“It gives me a lot of joy to be involved in goals and there is no better feeling than scoring – but I like having an impact and being involved in the lead up to a goal, where it might go unnoticed,” said Iwobi.
“It is good that Theo and Bernard are scoring, it is a healthy challenge, it motivates the team and makes me want to do more to show I should be starting.
“I want to get in on the act.
“Whoever scores the objective is to help the team but hopefully I can add to our goals.
“I don’t set individual targets – I am more concerned about the team.
“I want to score and provide assists because I am an attacking player… but I just go and do my best and hopefully those things come.”
Iwobi’s layoff around the turn of the year represented his longest spell of inactivity since playing the first of 149 games for Arsenal in October 2015.
“It was the worst time,” said Iwobi.
“For people who have long-term injuries, Lord knows how they feel.
“I was out for four weeks [before he could rejoin first-team training] and it felt like a year. So long.
“You are doing running not related to football and just want to get back on the pitch.
“You are by yourself and everyone is warming up getting ready to train on another pitch.
“It feels like punishment.
“But it is something you have to do and I was so hungry to be back as soon as possible.”
He added: “I love playing football.
“It is a licence to go and express myself with the ball.
“There is pressure in life but when I am on the pitch, I feel I can express myself through football.
“That is how I’ve felt since I was a kid.”