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Everton players must take responsibility in relegation scrap – Steven Naismith

The Toffees are three points above the drop zone with two games in hand over 18th-placed Watford.

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Steven Naismith played for Everton from 2012 to 2016 (Nigel French/PA).

Steven Naismith played for Everton from 2012 to 2016 (Nigel French/PA).

Steven Naismith played for Everton from 2012 to 2016 (Nigel French/PA).

Former Everton forward Steven Naismith has stressed the need for the club’s players to “take a lot of responsibility” between now and the end of the season as they bid to beat the drop.

The Toffees, who replaced boss Rafael Benitez with Frank Lampard in January, are currently 17th in the Premier League, three points above the relegation zone with two games in hand over 18th-placed Watford.

They secured a second win from seven league outings under Lampard by beating Newcastle 1-0 at Goodison Park last Thursday before being thrashed 4-0 at Crystal Palace in an FA Cup quarter-final on Sunday.

Scotland coach Naismith, who played for Everton from 2012 to 2016, told a press conference regarding his old club: “I think there is a few issues.

“The manager coming in is a good appointment because he comes across as someone who is cool and calm and won’t make rash decisions. But at this stage of the season there is only so much you can change.

“A lot of onus will be on the players to dig deep and get the results needed. The Newcastle game showed that, they got the crowd behind them at Goodison, who will be massively important for the rest of the season.

“Undoubtedly they have quality players but it is getting the best out of them.

“The players need to take a lot of responsibility from now to the end of the summer to one, stay up, and hopefully come the summer they can regroup and put a better challenge together next season.”

Asked if the FA Cup loss was damaging, Naismith said: “No, because the main priority is to get yourself safe and start putting a run of results in the league together.

“And the further you go down an FA Cup route can cause a few problems. It is great being in the latter stages of a cup but the priority for Everton is to get safe and rebuild. So I don’t think it will have that big an impact come the next league game (at West Ham on April 3).”

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