Sam Allardyce has hailed Seamus Coleman as the “complete player” and hopes the defender can carry on the impressive form he has shown since making his comeback from injury.
The Everton right-back - recalled to the Ireland squad this week for their 23 March friendly with Turkey - caught the eye on his first-team return after breaking his leg on international duty last March in the 2-1 win over Leicester City on 31 January.
After suffering a minor injury in the 3-1 success over Crystal Palace last time out at Goodison, Coleman was back in the thick of the action last weekend at Burnley, his flick-on teeing up Cenk Tosun for his first Everton goal.
The 29-year-old Irishman was his usual assertive self up and down the right flank at Turf Moor, completing 87.5 per cent of his passes and chipping in with five interceptions – the most of any defender in the Premier League for that round of fixtures - and two clearances throughout the 90 minutes.
Allardyce has been impressed with the manner Coleman has adapted to the system the Blues boss wants to play since his full-back’s return, yet is unsurprised given his belief that the Irishman is “the whole package”.
And he is hopeful that Coleman's fruitful partnership down the right-hand side with Theo Walcott can once again prove pivotal against Brighton on Saturday.
“Seamus is the complete footballer in terms of attitude, mental resilience, focus and ability,” he told evertontv. “He has proven over the years to have the whole package as a player. It is not just about ability in the game, it is about how you are mentally and physically capable of producing that ability on a matchday.
“Seamus has a determination and desire to have an effect on the result. You saw in the Burnley game when he popped up in the opposition box to flick a header on for Cenk to score. He shows by his performance that he drives everybody on and at the moment that is very important for us all.
“For a long time Seamus has been one of those iconic players for Everton. For me, it is how many goals he has scored. Having him notch a couple like he has done in the past would be very important for us, alongside him being very creative.
“On top of that, the level of combinations that Seamus and Theo [Walcott] has shown over a short period of time is one hopefully we can look forward to again seeing on Saturday against Brighton.
“I hope the rest of the season is a chance for that partnership to strengthen. It is a partnership that can excite the fans. They have seen a glimpse already and we hope that can continue.”
Coleman has augmented an Everton defence that will be further strengthened by the return to fitness of skipper Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines and Ramiro Funes Mori.
Allardyce pointed to the combined Premier League experience of both Baines and Jagielka, in particular - who have made a combined 631 top-flight appearances between them - as a key factor in the Blues looking to continue their impressive record at Goodison Park where they have taken 20 points from a possible 27, and 17 from 24 since the 4-0 win over West Ham on the eve of Allardyce's appointment as manager.
“Phil is back in the squad after his knee injury,” added the Blues boss. “We now need to decide whether we draw on his experience for Saturday.
“We have a very experienced squad here in terms of playing in the Premier League and that experience needs to come to the fore against Brighton. The players need to draw on that to be able to take on the pressure and deliver a performance that they need to.
“For me, Phil might be a very important part of that and Leighton is pushing for a start as well, so hopefully we can get back on track against Brighton.”