Martin O’Neill has become fond of trotting out the line about how Seamus Coleman is the best right-back in Britain, but the defender’s Everton teammate and opponent later this week, Steven Naismith, went a step further yesterday.
Coleman had just been nominated for the PFA’s Young Player of the Year award by the time Naismith arrived at Goodison Park in the summer of 2012, but the attacking midfielder has seen considerable improvement in the short time since.
“For me, he is the best right-back in Europe,” said the Scot. “When I first came to Everton he was a player who would get nervous and do a lot of stuff just off the cuff, whereas he probably thinks about his game a bit more now.
“With the way the manager (Roberto Martinez) is playing he is a goal threat. He is probably the most down-to-earth player I have ever met in football and it is great to see how … he is just going to be a superstar. Nothing fazes him. He just goes about his business.
“He is the exact same as he was back in Sligo and that is a fantastic quality to have. He gets everything he deserves because he is such a fantastic player and he is so humble and works so hard to get where he is.”
Naismith name-checked Coleman again and, in particular the seven goals the Irishman scored for their club last season on the way to a place on the PFA’s team of the year, when discussing his own inability to manage more than four in 32 appearances for his country.
Aiden McGeady is another Evertonian who has spoken of a desire to find the net more often at international level in recent times – something he managed with the two goals away to Georgia earlier this year – but Naismith believes his priority lies elsewhere.
“I see Aiden more as an old-fashioned winger, which is kind of going out of the modern game, so if I am him I am looking more at my assists. For us recently, he has set up a lot of chances, but it is good to see that he wants to score more goals.
“I know Aiden is quite hard on himself.”
Naismith was lavish in his praise for all four of Everton’s Irish contingent – James McCarthy and Darron Gibson being the other two – but he has also backed Scotland’s own collection of talent ahead of Friday’s meeting at Parkhead.
“They have quality players who play for Everton week in and week out, so they will definitely be a threat. But we have good players as well and we have shown this campaign that we can create chances and dictate the play.”
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