Everton manager Marco Silva will continue to play Richarlison as a striker even if the winger is not in the best goalscoring form.

The Brazil international is the Toffees’ top scorer with nine this season, but after a run of three goals in five matches in December he has not found the net in the last five.

He last found the net with the final goal in the 90th minute of the 5-1 Boxing Day thrashing of Burnley and in last weekend’s victory over Bournemouth he looked uncomfortable against the Cherries’ two centre-backs, frequently not even attempting to challenge for aerial balls.

But Silva insists the 21-year-old, who last season for Watford did not score in the 28 matches he played after November 19, is happy in his front-man role.

“My aim as a coach and a manager is to put the starting XI on the pitch and the XI I think is the best solution for each match,” said Silva ahead of the trip to Southampton.

“Richarlison can play out wide or as a striker; now he is playing more as a striker.

“I know every three or four matches he doesn’t score the same conversation will come again.

“I know he hasn’t scored since Boxing Day but he is a possibility to play as a striker, like with Cenk (Tosun) or Dominic (Calvert-Lewin).

“We have the three plus Oumar (Niasse), if he doesn’t leave (on loan to Cardiff), and I will decide the best solution as to who will play in that position.

“What I can say is he feels as comfortable in that position as he does playing out wide, it is the same for him, and it is up to us to decide.”

Victory over Bournemouth last weekend made it two Premier League wins in the last nine but Everton have to maintain that momentum if they are not to continue drifting in mid-table, with the top six already out of reach 11 points away.

“It will be tough. They are fighting really hard to achieve that and it is up to us be strong also and achieve a good result again,” Silva added.

“Southampton are improving and playing with more confidence.”