Michael Keane believes there is more to come from Everton’s defence after their clean sheet helped secure a 1-0 victory over Newcastle United.
Monday night saw Keane, Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman line up together for the sixth straight game, dating back to the 2-0 win over Brighton on 10 March.
Keane himself impressed with nine clearances – the joint most alongside Jagielka – along with three interceptions and five aerial duels won as the Toffees held firm despite late United pressure, after Theo Walcott had struck early in the second half.
With three games left to go of the season, Keane believes there is more to come from both himself and his defensive colleagues as he revealed how the backline has been able to develop in recent weeks.
“It is a lot more settled at the back and there are experienced players in that back four now which always helps,” said the 25-year-old, who signed from Burnley last summer.
“There’s a lot more talking as well. It certainly helps playing together week in and week out and on the training pitch as well.
“I feel comfortable playing with anyone, but it is great playing with Jags. I could play with Ashley Williams and Ramiro Funes Mori, of course, but it is just playing with them regularly and knowing each other’s game a bit more and getting that understanding with each other on the training pitch.
“But I feel comfortable with Jags at the minute and he always talks so that is helping me.
“We have got three games left and we are aiming to win them all to build up the confidence.”
Keane accepts there will be times when the Blues must grind out results and was pleased to have done so against a Newcastle side that came to Goodison off the back of four straight games.
“We knew it would be a tough game,” he added. “But we dug in there in the second half and got the result we wanted. It wasn’t the best performance but we got the win and the clean sheet.
“We had a lot of the ball but we were sloppy a few times. The manager told us at half-time to be better in possession and that would allow us to create more chances. We didn’t have a shot on target in the first half and when that changed in the second, we got our goal.
“You can’t always win well. We know that wasn’t our best game at home – where we have been playing really well – but to get the win is very pleasing.”