Mina: I'm Ready For Chelsea Test

by Peter Lennox

Yerry Mina declared he is “in great shape and ready to play” as the defender revealed his excitement about the prospect of making his full Premier League debut against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

The centre-back also detailed how he believes the united atmosphere within the Everton camp can help lead the Club to success – and emphasised his eagerness to repay the supporters for the warm reception afforded to him.

Mina joined the Blues on transfer deadline day from Barcelona, but a foot injury saw him forced to wait for his Blues bow.

The Colombia international got his first taste of Goodison Park action on Saturday after being introduced as a late substitute in the Toffees’ 3-1 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion. He then completed 90 minutes as Everton beat Gor Mahia 4-0 in the SportPesa Trophy on Tuesday night.

Michael Keane has partnered Kurt Zouma in the heart of the Blues defence for their past six Premier League matches but – with the on-loan Frenchman ineligible for the clash with parent club Chelsea – Mina is in contention for a first Premier League start.

The 24-year-old explained his determination to help Everton continue their impressive form, as the Blues aim to rack up a fifth top-flight victory in six matches.

“I am really excited about getting the chance to possibly play,” he said. “I am in great shape, 100 per cent fit and ready to help the team.

“That is thanks to the support I’ve had, not just from my family, but also from my teammates who have been really supportive during the period I have not been playing.

“I’ve known all along I have made a decision to join a great club, where I have got some fantastic teammates, a great technical team and backroom staff, management, directors – and the fans, of course.

“I am just determined from now on to enjoy myself, to look forward, perform as well as I can, learning from the great teammates I’ve got around me.

“Against Brighton, when I came on I thought I was going to be a bit nervous, getting used to things. But I felt really calm, it went well, and I didn’t have any nerves at all. And to get the full 90 minutes in the friendly game – that was great as well. Now I just want to kick on from here.

“I want to do well, impress the manager, make friends and impress with my football.”

While still in the embryonic stages of his Everton career, Mina has already formed a strong connection with the Club's supporters.

His cheerful, affable nature has already come to the fore – not least in a recent Everton in the Community (EitC) Showcase event where he was seen engaging with young fans and enthusiastically celebrating their goals in a five-a-side game.

He received a rapturous welcome to Goodison when he came on against Brighton last weekend - and the former Palmeiras defender insists the backing he has received from Toffees fans has been key factor in his swift adaptation to life on Merseyside.

He believes his values are a perfect fit for Everton.

“I’d like to thank the supporters for how they have shown their appreciation to me,” he said. “I return that appreciation, I like them a lot, too. 

“I almost don’t have the words to describe the reception I got when I set foot on the pitch against Brighton. It struck me in a really positive way. 

“Now it’s down to me to thank the fans and pay them back for that lovely reception. My only aim is to do well for them and for me and for this great, great club I’ve signed for.

“I’ve always been quite a calm and relaxed character. I’m natural, what you see is what you get. I was born like that. I try to be happy and I try to transmit my happiness to the people around me, whether it be my teammates, my friends or the kids who come to see us at the Club. 

“I try to give them nice memories. There’s a Colombian saying: ‘Keep your feet on the ground and eyes to the sky’. That’s what I try to do.”

Mina, who was a shining light for Colombia in their run to the last 16 of the World Cup this summer, says he is also enjoying playing under progressive and approachable manager Marco Silva.

The centre-back is convinced Everton’s future is bright under the Portuguese – and emphasised the vibrant atmosphere among the players at USM Finch Farm each day. He insists this togetherness is a key component for any successful team.

“I’ve really enjoyed working with the manager,” he said. “First and foremost, he is a really good person and he shows that character not just with me but with all the players. 

“You can have a friendly conversation with him, he talks with us all, deals with us all individually and that’s great. 

“I’m really enjoying training, not just with him but with all the coaching staff. I think the fact we feel so much like a family is really positive for the Club. The more united you are as a group of players, the more likely you are to have success.”

Mina also revealed he has held the ambition of playing in England since he was a boy. He believes he has the attributes to flourish in the Premier League and says he is ready for the challenge of facing some of the best attacking players in world football.

“I watched it [the Premier League] intensely from back home, and I always knew it was a tough league and difficult to compete in,” he said. "I’ve always been aware every team is capable of beating every other team in the league.

“I always wanted to play here. I’m aware some of the top strikers in the world play in this league and I can’t wait to have the opportunity to come up against them and hopefully mark them well. 

“When you go off the pitch and you’ve managed to keep the person you’re marking quiet, it is always satisfying.”

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