Manager Frank Lampard hopes that Dele Alli’s individual contribution in the vital 1-1 draw against Leicester could be the starting point for him to ignite his Everton career.
The former England international was Lampard’s first choice as a substitute just before the hour he was chasing the game, but it wasn’t until the second minute of extra time that Alli made his mark.
Chasing a ball into the corner, he regained possession and his cross led Richarlison to score, putting them four points clear of 18th-placed Burnley ahead of their home game against Southampton on Thursday.
It was only Alli’s seventh appearance, all as a substitute, since moving from Tottenham on deadline day, but Lampard hopes he can be the spark that helps him regain his form.
“We needed a goal and he has trained well,” said the coach when asked about his choice of substitute.
“It is not easy to demand from players who are not playing as much to come in and have an impact, but you have to train well to show your coach that you deserve an opportunity and he has.
“Clearly he has done it in training, and then you get a bit of luck or something happens to you and that happened with Dele.
“He deserves it; he ran to the corner, intimidates someone and puts the ball in the area and we scored.
“I was really pleased with that part of him and I hope it can be a great starting point for him.”
Lampard admits that the transition to a new club – and one that was struggling – after seven years at Tottenham was always going to be difficult for the 26-year-old.
“I don’t think history was ever going to be simple with Dele; we know the situation in which he came to us in terms of how the last two seasons have looked and the high level that he reached during a great period of time at Tottenham.
“Sometimes you have to work and fight for things and we are in that process with him.
“I have a great level of communication with him and I explain a lot to him in terms of the demands of training and application and being ready for when that time comes.”
A point was more beneficial to Everton than to Leicester, who remain ninth and 11 points from a possible European qualification.
Manager Brendan Rodgers admits priorities have changed for them with a Europa Conference League semi-final against José Mourinho’s Roma to come.
Asked if European qualification via a league place was beyond them, the Foxes boss said: “It probably will be.
“Finishing in the top half of the table and reaching the final of the competition we are in, it will be a very good season for us, in terms of where we were with the players and injuries.
“There are still a lot of games to play in the league (and) you have to respect the fans who travel all over the country.
“Every game we play we will give it our all until the last whistle blows in the last game of the season, but it is clear that European competition is important for us as it gives us the opportunity to qualify for Europe for the third season.”
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