Martinez concerned over Niasse fitness
Everton boss Roberto Martinez admits it will be a “bonus” if Oumar Niasse could feature in Everton’s remaining games this season.
Everton brought the £13.5m Senegalese striker in January but Niasse has struggled badly for fitness since joining.
The 25-year-old had last played a competitive game in December and arrived at Goodison with a wrist injury.
Niasse made his Everton debut as a late substitute in the FA Cup win over Bournemouth in late February but has only managed less than an hour of action in total.
Martinez says the striker is putting in “good work” in training but concedes that he is now looking at next season before expecting to see the best from Niasse.
“At the moment, Oumar is adapting well,” said Martinez, who was speaking ahead of the weekend’s game with Southampton.
“The first step was to get rid of the pain in his wrist after the problems that gave him.
“Now is probably the first period that he had 10 days of complete good work and he’s going to get the benefit from it.
“From that to be able to play and to cope with 90 minutes of the demands of the Premier League I think is a very different story.
“Oumar will benefit completely with a pre-season and at the start of next season.
“This campaign is more about getting used to the environment and to get to slowly work towards the physicality of this league.
“If he could play some part of the games it would be a bonus but at the moment it is more of an introduction than the star role he can have.”
Niasse was an unused substitute in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Southampton and though Martinez says game-time is important for his fitness, he says Everton are entering a crucial period of their season.
“It is a bit of a catch-22 situation, of course you need him to give him games and you need to give him minutes,” Martinez added.
“At this stage of the season you have to be very, very careful in giving players minutes because at the moment we are working towards achieving results and finishing the games strongly so it is a bit of a difficult situation.
“But just by Oumar working with the group and being available and preparing himself towards games is going to help us into that introduction into the British game which is not easy when you come from Russia and have never had a background in this country.”