Steven Naismith is finally gaining appreciation at Everton.
Another goal-scoring cameo against Swansea changed the game the Toffees' way and secured a passage through to the FA Cup quarter-finals.
That's now four goals in five games for Naismith, and his seasonal tally of six is only bettered by Romelu Lukaku at the club.
In his first year at Everton, the former Rangers man scored just four goals, rarely receiving any universal acclaim. This season, he's proving he can play a far more significant role under Roberto Martinez.
The key to his improvement has been a larger portion of time spent in attack, where his skills are much better utilised.
His on-field intelligence, willingness to stick to instruction and unerring energy often handicapped his first season in England.
Naismith's role under David Moyes was generally simple: come on during the closing stages of a game, tirelessly track an opposing winger or full-back and help close out a win.
Under Martinez, and helped by a shortage of strikers, the Scot's now finding himself in more central, attacking zones—where he's much more likely to make an impression.
Looking at statistics taken from this current season, his suitability to an attacking role is further emphasised.
|Everton Attacking Stats 2013/14 (in all competitions)|
|Minutes per goal||164||182||398||234|
|WhoScored.com, Squawka.com, TLS Football App|
Playing as a striker is clearly where Everton will get the best production out of Naismith. He is arguably the best finisher at the club and frequently tests the goalkeeper when found in the box.
His chance conversion rate is impressively high at 40 percent, doubling that of Lukaku. While that ratio is unlikely to be maintained, it further highlights his ability in the box.
Away from the numbers, Naismith possesses underrated, predatory instincts, as well as some of the best attacking movement at the club.
While this is certainly not an argument to start Naismith every match, it showcases his worth in a specific role.
There are limitations to his game which affect his claims to be a regular starter. He doesn't possess the size or speed to match top-tier strikers—despite a surprising proficiency in the air—and his touch can be a little suspect.
However, Naismith's recent contributions underline his importance at Everton. He is a valuable squad player who can make telling contributions over the course of a season.
He has become the Toffees' most effective impact player, and his days on a flank should be severely, if not completely, reduced.
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