PHIL NEVILLE believes the early signing of Steven Naismith can help Everton FC hit the ground running in the forthcoming Premier League campaign.
David Moyes moved quickly to snap up Naismith on a free transfer after the Scotland international refused to transfer his contract to the new company running crisis club Rangers.
Everton have been guilty of starting sluggishly in recent years, not helped by a tendency to cram their summer transfer business during the final days before the window closes.
And skipper Neville is convinced the capture of Naismith has already made a positive impact on pre-season preparations.
“It’s a massive boost,” he said. “I think when you get somebody new in the dressing room it challenges the whole squad, it lifts morale and it provides challenges to all the team – one, to impress the new signing and, two, to fight for your place.
“We haven’t done that (made an early signing) in the last two or three years and this one is obviously a big boost for everyone.”
Last season, Everton brought in just Royston Drenthe and Denis Stracqualursi on short-term deals, while selling Yakubu, Jermaine Beckford and Mikel Arteta.
Moyes is already looking to further bolster his squad with a move to bring Steven Pienaar back from Tottenham Hotspur on a permanent basis, and is keeping tabs on free agents Hugo Rodallega and Daniel Pranjic.
Naismith is in Austria with his new team-mates for a five-day pre-season training camp in the mountain village of Obertraun.
And Neville has already been impressed by the impact of Everton’s new number 14.
“He can play in a number of positions and he just looks to me as if he’s the perfect Everton-type player,” he added. “He’s hard-working, he’s got quality, he can score goals, he can play on the left, on the right, he can play behind the front man and we can utilise him in a number of ways.
“I’ve spoken to Nikica Jelavic quite a lot about him and he had a good partnership with him too (at Rangers).
“In the first couple of days I’ve seen him and spoken with him, he’s got a hunger to succeed and it’s great when you hear that he really wanted to come to Everton. I think he saw the quality of the team and the quality of the manager and he wanted to be a part of it.”
Meanwhile, Chinese side Guizhou Renhe claim they have failed in an attempt to sign Tim Cahill.
The Australian was a special guest at Guizhou’s Chinese FA Cup match on Wednesday, but club coach Gao Hongbo confirmed it was an informal visit and talks about a possible transfer had previously broken down.
“We did have negotiations with Tim Cahill but we couldn’t reach an agreement with him,” he said.
“There were a couple of issues so we invited him to the club. We hope he enjoys his time here and that he will look favourably at our club.”
Earlier this year Moyes insisted that Cahill, who has been at Everton since 2004, still has a part to play at Goodison.
However, the Australian last month hinted he would consider a move to the Middle East or China if the right offer came round, and has reportedly already turned down a lucrative offer from a United Arab Emirates club.
Cahill is yet to return for pre-season training having been given extended leave after World Cup qualifying commitments during the summer.