Everton manager Frank Lampard has defended Brazilian Richarlison despite his poor goal return so far this season.
Injury has restricted England international Dominic Calvert-Lewin to just 11 appearances and in his absence the Brazilian, who has played most of his career out wide, has had to be the nominal centre-forward.
A paltry return of just five goals (four in the league) in 23 matches means Richarlison is only third behind summer signings Andros Townsend – whose season has been ended by a knee injury – and Demarai Gray.
The 24-year-old has scored only one Premier League goal since early December but Lampard, who saw the Brazil international score in his first match in charge after taking over from Rafael Benitez, does not think the responsibility has weighed heavy on the player.
“I think the burden of wanting to score goals is a natural one for a goalscorer. I see a hungry player who shows that in his performance a lot,” he said ahead of Sunday’s trip to West Ham.
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“It’s the the way I’d want it, I was a similar player myself. I don’t think it is a burden in terms of negative sense.
“It is good burden and when we get a better output from the top end of the pitch we will see results.”
Richarlison will be helped by the return to fitness of Calvert-Lewin, who has made just three starts for Lampard due to illness and injury.
All the striker’s three goals this season came in the opening three matches of the season before a thigh injury sidelined him for more than four months.
“The (international) break has been positive for Dominic. I haven’t had much benefit of him in the league – I think three starts – and he was playing short of fitness,” added the Toffees boss.
“A striker needs to be 100 per cent and we have worked well with him over the last couple of weeks.
“Without putting any undue pressure on him, because it’s tough to be a striker with expectation, but he’s in a good place.”
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