Croatia forward Nikica Jelavić is backing himself to shine at UEFA EURO 2012 after ending the season in fine form for club side Everton FC.
Signed from Rangers FC in January, the 26-year-old immediately thrived in England, notching nine goals in 13 Premier League appearances and picking up the top division's player of the month award for April. Those performances did not go unnoticed by coach Slaven Bilić and Jelavić is now set to lead the line against the Republic of Ireland in their Group C opener.
"I was in good form and I feel good," he said. "I hope I will continue my form at EURO 2012. I hope I will play for Croatia the same as I played for Everton, but what's most important is how the team plays. We're doing a good job here and I hope we will show that on the pitch against Ireland on Sunday.
"I don't feel any pressure," he added. "It's a challenge for me; I am ready and I will do my best at EURO.
I know forwards are expected to get goals, but in our case it isn't really important who's going to score – just that we play well and win. That first match is the crucial one and we will do anything to beat Ireland and have less pressure ahead of the other matches in our group."
So committed to the cause is the former SK Rapid Wien player, in fact, that he does not feel the team should be set up to cater to his qualities as a bustling centre-forward. "The individual should adapt to the team's play; it's not the team that should play for the individual," he explained.
As for finding a route to goal against Ireland, Jelavić is uncertain of Croatia's best approach, mindful that their sole win against the Boys in Green came in the run-up to EURO '96. "Should we look for low or high balls? I don't know," he said. "We haven't scored much against Ireland in the past. Ask Davor Šuker, he's scored against them – that's the best option!"
©UEFA.com 1998-2013. All rights reserved.