Demarai Gray admits he is embracing the responsibility to make a difference for Everton, as the forward revealed feeling "valued" by manager Frank Lampard and the Club has been key to his impressive recent form.
The 26-year-old has caught the eye in recent weeks, scoring a superb equaliser against Manchester City on New Year's Eve, netting from the spot at home to Brighton and then being key to the Blues' encouraging attacking display against Manchester United at Old Trafford last Friday.
Now, with Southampton the visitors to Goodison Park on Saturday (3pm), Gray has discussed what has been integral to him maturing as a player and finding consistency to his game.
“Attacking players have a lot of responsibility because you win games by scoring goals,” Gray told Everton's Official Matchday Programme for Southampton. “The space I am in now, and the way I have matured, I have realised that I am probably looked at as one of the players to make a difference.
“For me, feeling valued really helps, and I feel like at Everton, everyone is behind me. I do like the responsibility of trying to win us games, and the manager has made me feel like I can be that person.
“I am not saying he showers me with praise, more that I just feel like everyone in the camp is behind me and believes in me. I have good relationships with everyone here. It gives me that added incentive to go out and fight for the team.
“I feel like I am on the right track right now. The nature of being a wide attacker means you’ll always have periods of doing well and then maybe not so well, but I feel like my game has matured. Sometimes I am even playing centrally, which I feel like I have adapted to. I feel dangerous."
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Gray added: "For me, it is about maintaining that consistency. That will bring points to the table for the team. We all need to be more consistent. We’ve shown signs of our quality, and we have some top names on paper, but this is the Premier League, and you can lose if not at your very best. We need to keep the standards high every single day.
"We have a great group here; everyone is together. But when things aren’t going great, we have to get a hold of each other and have brutally honest conversations.
“You have to do it to get the best out of each other.
“But from the fans right down to the changing room, it’s a very good place and we’re all together, it’s now about getting success and doing better than what we’ve been doing. I am confident there’s more joy ahead.”
You can hear more from Demarai Gray in this weekend’s matchday programme where the Everton forward discusses harnessing pressure, what it felt like to win the Premier League title with Leicester City, and how he has settled in on Merseyside with the Club.
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