Michael Keane is aiming to be a “massive” part of an “exciting” season at Everton after making a winning Goodison Park debut last night.
Keane partnered Ashley Williams in the heart of defence, as the Blues launched their Europa League campaign with a 1-0 victory over MFK Ružomberok.
The centre-half, signed earlier this month for a Club-record £25million from Burnley, admitted the prospect of playing European football helped entice him to Merseyside – and he is already excitedly anticipating next week’s second leg in Slovakia.
“We have a great squad, now, with good depth,” said Keane. “We want to give every competition a good go, especially Europe.
“I wanted to test myself on a different stage. I have never played in Europe before, so it was good to make my debut.
“It was a good experience. I am looking forward to the away games as well. It is something new to me and, hopefully, I can do well.”
Keane admitted Thursday’s performance betrayed the fact that Everton are still in the thick of their pre-season preparations – their opponents, by contrast, were playing their sixth competitive game of the campaign.
But the 24-year-old drew plenty of encouragement from the manner in which he and Williams combined to shutout a robust Ruzomberok attack.
“Ashley is very good to play with, he has a lot of experience and is a good communicator,” said Keane.
“I think we will get better with time - and playing with each other in training as well always helps. But to start off with a clean sheet is not bad.
“We were all focused on the game, we wanted to get a positive result and put on a show for the fans. I do not think it was the best we could play, we showed glimpses of what we could do – but, hopefully, there is a lot more to come.
“We are normally only halfway through pre-season now and still running every day in training. We have had to take that down a bit and get our fitness from these games, so we knew we would not be as sharp as we could be.
“They made it difficult for us and caused us one or two issues at the back as well. We will have to be on top of our game next week to make sure we go through.”
Keane, one of four new faces in the Blues’ starting line-up against the Slovaks, was glad to get his first Everton game under his belt – and content for his Goodison bow to pass slightly under the radar, given Wayne Rooney’s return to action in a blue shirt.
“I can properly focus on the football now and kick on,” added Keane. “Wayne was the main attraction... it was a great story, what happened with him.
“I think it will be an exciting season for everyone involved. It is great to be a part of it, I can only see us getting better and, maybe, one or two more players coming in as well.
“The club is going in the right direction and I cannot wait to play more games and be a massive part of it.”