Zoko has been tremendous this season - Westley

10:00 24 January 2014

Francois Zoko scoring against Portsmouth in the FA Cup earlier this season. Photo: Harry Hubbard

Francois Zoko scoring against Portsmouth in the FA Cup earlier this season. Photo: Harry Hubbard

Archant

Stevenage manager discusses impact of his top scorer ahead of Everton FA Cup game

Graham Westley has praised Francois Zoko ahead of this weekend’s cup clash.

The Ivory Coast striker, who recently signed a new deal that will keep him at the club until the end of the season, will lead the Boro line against Everton on Saturday.

Asked about what Stevenage have done to get the best out of the 13-goal forward since he joined the club in October after being released by Notts County, Westley said that it is Zoko, and not the club, who must take the credit.

“He came here with a lot to prove and he’s made it his business to go out and prove that when he’s been out on the pitch,” Westley said.

“His form since he’s been here has been tremendous. I think the players have got around him and have given him what he needs in terms of support and appreciation.

“There aren’t translators left, right and centre but the players have taken time to get to know him as a person and if you get to know someone as a person and bring the real person out then maybe you see more expression from him on the pitch.

“They’ve just given him patience, and tolerance and understanding. They’ve not allowed communication to be a barrier.

“We’ve taken time to talk to him and make sure that he understands us and we understand him. Maybe that’s the biggest part of Francois. If you understand him he gives you a lot back.”

Boro go into the game on the back of two victories from four matches in all competitions since the turn of the year, and Everton boss Roberto Martinez, in an attempt to deflect away any pressure on his side, has already said that Stevenage as the home team are the favourites for the match.

Martinez is expected to make some changes from the side that drew 1-1 with West Brom on Monday evening in the Premier League, with Seamus Coleman already ruled out through injury.

Westley, who on Tuesday laughed at the suggestion made by one journalist that Romelu Lukaku may start, says he expects some changes but added that whatever team Everton put it, it will be full of quality.

“I think ‘weakened’ would be to say the wrong thing. You look at them [against West Brom] and there’s so much quality on their bench.

“We saw them earlier in the season with lads who aren’t regulars starting. We know the type of quality that they’ve got within their squad.

“Any team coming out of that squad is going to be a team of high quality and are going to be difficult to beat.

“We don’t expect victory to come easily, but nobody in football, nobody associated with the FA Cup, would want us to do anything but to go in with the mentality to win the game.”

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