Everton Manager Silva Tips Keane For Even Greater Heights

by Paul McNamara

Marco Silva is confident Michael Keane boasts the "skills" and "attitude" to continue improving following the defender’s excellent start to the campaign.

Keane joined the succession of Everton players who have received international recalls this season when he was named in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for forthcoming matches against USA and Croatia.

The centre-back has been ever-present in Everton’s team since returning from an early-season head injury and was a pivotal figure in the Blues winning four of their past five Premier League matches.

Keane earned the most recent of his four England caps in October last year but has flourished under Silva’s tutelage this term.

“Last season wasn’t easy for him, coming to a new club and trying to have an impact, but I see a big difference in him now,” Silva told evertontv.

“I realised when I started to work with him during pre-season that his confidence was not high.

“But we saw in him the qualities to be one of our central defenders.

“We worked with him and believed in him in that moment because we saw his qualities as a central defender.

“He is improving and understanding our model and trying to do everything we ask from him.

“And he is performing well because he has the skills to do that.

“He is a good player, still with a lot of things to improve.

“But he has the potential to continue improving – first because he is open to doing that, he is open to improving every day, and then because he has the skills.

“He is in the right way [with respect to attitude], he is coming in every day to try to improve and that is reflecting in what he is doing on the pitch.”

Keane’s international summons was promptly followed by a recall to the Portugal squad for 2016 European Championship winner Andre Gomes.

The midfielder recovered from a hamstring problem to make his Everton debut against Crystal Palace last month and has swiftly established himself as an integral member of Silva’s team.

Lucas Digne has reclaimed his spot in Didier Deschamps' France squad since joining the Blues three months ago, while Richarlison has launched his international career with Brazil following a summer transfer to Goodison Park from Watford.

Asked if his players’ international recognition left him nurturing a sense of pride, Silva said: “Of course, no doubts about that, it is my job to develop our players as a team – but to support our players and give them conditions to achieve important things for their national teams as well.

“The main thing is to achieve good results – the wins we need and want.

“But it is also my job to develop players, to give them conditions to grow as footballers.

“When I see players being recalled to their national teams, it is very important and reflects the job we are doing.”

Kurt Zouma will sit out Everton’s weekend visit to parent club Chelsea, opening the door for one of Yerry Mina, Phil Jagielka or Mason Holgate to plug the gap left by the accomplished centre-half.

Zouma has partnered Keane at the heart of the Blues’ defence for the past six Premier League games – the period since the Englishman returned from the hairline skull fracture he sustained at Bournemouth in August.

But Silva is optimistic that details provided on the training ground, allied to the presence next to them of an assured Keane, will enable Zouma’s replacement to settle into the side with a minimum of fuss.

“It is never easy to do what I want in our backline,” added Silva.

“But we are building some stability [in the squad] and it is part of our job as well to give players conditions to understand what we want.

“That is very important in the backline – and especially important for the central defenders.

“Now might be a better time [than early in the season when tactics were still being shaped] for the player who is coming in to play alongside him.”

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