Gylfi Sigurdsson found himself outside Everton’s first team in the opening weeks of the season.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men were flying and went top of the league without the Icelandic international in the side.

But injuries have handed Sigurdsson an opportunity in recent weeks and he has taken it impressively, according to former Everton goalkeeper Nigel Martyn.

In an exclusive interview with Everton News, he praised Ancelotti’s management for getting the best out of Sigurdsson and said the former Tottenham man has made himself very hard to drop now.

Nigel Martyn of Everton
(Gary M.Prior/Getty Images)

“He’s been a top quality Premier League player for quite a few seasons,” said Martyn. “And I’d have thought his nose would have been put right out of joint not being in the team, especially when the team did so well at the start of the season, winning all those games.

“It’s quite tough to take that. Now he’s come back in and his performances are high again, it’s almost as if he’s going to the manager, ‘you can’t leave me out now’. His performances have warranted that.

“As the manager, you think that’s good management because he probably wasn’t playing at the level he is now before.

“It’s not nice when somebody else is in your position and doing well but fair play to him, you’ve realised you’re not in his first 11 and you’ve forced your way back in through your good play and now it’s difficult for the manager to drop him.”

“That’s the response you want as a manager so hats off to him.”

Perhaps the recent absence of James Rodriguez has helped Sigurdsson take over some of the creative responsibility in the side.

But as Martyn said, it’s clear that the spell on the sidelines has forced Sigurdsson to raise his game and produce the performances we’ve seen in recent games.

Ancelotti will be hoping that form can continue right through the Christmas period with a vital run of games coming up.