Toffees to make McGeady sweat

Everton 2 Norwich 0

Toffees to make McGeady sweat

McGeady, 27, has never been short of confidence and that is clear to all Irish football supporters, but Everton’s latest recruit will have to believe he has the match fitness to make his Toffees debut this week after his three-and-a-half-year spell in Eastern Europe ended with a move to the Premier League from Spartak Moscow.

The former Celtic winger has not kicked a ball since the end of November, as the Russian league has been on a winter break, and will have to prove his fitness this week to new manager Roberto Martinez if he is to have any chance of making his Premier League debut against West Brom next Monday.

The Republic of Ireland international was not expected to join Everton until the summer when his contract at Spartak Moscow ended, but the situation changed on Friday and the Toffees pushed through an immediate move which will cost them in the region of €2.5 million.

McGeady put pen to paper on a four-and-a-half-year deal on Saturday morning after undergoing a medical and was paraded on the pitch before Everton cruised to a comfortable win over struggling Norwich. He will now be given the perfect chance to get to know his new team-mates with a warm-weather training camp this week in Tenerife, but it will also be hard work for the Irish international who will have to show he is ready to play.

“It is important to give him time and see how he reacts,” said Martinez, who has been a long-time admirer of McGeady. “Going away to warm-weather training will help and give us a clearer idea of where we are. If he can be involved somehow against West Brom it will be a real bonus.”

The FA Cup fourth-round tie against Stevenage may be a more realistic target but he will be keen to get involved in a side that continues to show it has the credentials to break into the top four this season.

Gareth Barry put the Toffees in front with a stunning 20-yard strike in the 23rd minute of what had been a relatively dull affair to that point. Kevin Mirallas provided the second after the break when he curled in a long-range free-kick just before the hour mark.

Mirallas, of course, will be one of the players who McGeady is in competition with for a starting place, but Martinez denied bringing in the Glasgow-born winger to put pressure on the Belgium international who has been inconsistent this season.

However, his arrival will obviously give Martinez some extra options, especially with Ross Barkley ruled out for at least three weeks with a suspected broken toe.

“Remember that Kevin has played a lot of football and you are going to get some ups and downs depending on what stage of the campaign you are at,” he said. “I thought he was bright against Norwich and had all the energy. Kevin can play in different positions and we have opportunities now for those three places behind Romelu Lukaku.

“I still think a couple of players could play in that forward position so I think that’s why it was so important for us to get Aiden McGeady in now rather than at the end of the season.”

For Norwich and manager Chris Hughton it is looking bleak. It is six games without a league win and they sit just two points above the drop zone.

Hughton refused to be drawn on the future of Irish midfielder Wes Hoolahan, who was an unused substitute at Goodison. The Dubliner is a target for Aston Villa and former manager Paul Lambert with a January move seemingly close.

“There is nothing to discuss as he is still a part of the Norwich squad,” said Hughton, who has obviously more concerns about his team’s current plight.

EVERTON (4-2-3-1): Howard 6; Coleman 7, Jagielka 6, Stones 7, Baines 6; Barry 7, McCarthy 7; Mirallas 8, Osman 7 (Heitinga 69, 6), Pienaar 6 (Naismith 71, 6); Lukaku 7.

NORWICH (4-4-2): Ruddy 6; Whittaker 6, R Bennett 5, Bassong 5, Olsson 5; Snodgrass 6, Fer 6, Johnson 5, Garrido 5 (Redmond 66, 6); Hooper 5, van Wolfswinkel 5 (Murphy 88).

Referee: Kevin Friend 7.

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