Everton Under-23s defender Lewis Gibson says Monday’s game against Blackburn Rovers is “another task put in front of us towards the title”.
The young Blues are four points clear at the top of the Premier League 2 table with six games remaining as they welcome Rovers to the Merseyrail Community Stadium in Southport, kick-off 7pm.
David Unsworth’s side have been relentless in their pursuit of the title this season and have suffered just one defeat in their past five league games.
Their character was tested in their previous outing – a Premier League Cup tie against Blackburn coincidentally – as Rovers went 1-0 up against the run of play only for the Toffees to hit back and earn the draw they needed to reach the knockout stages.
Gibson insists that mental strength is “up there with the best I have seen” and will serve them well as they bid to reclaim a title they won in 2017.
“Monday is another task put in front of us towards the title,” he said. “Every game is just as important as the rest and we treat them the same. However, we do know a little more about Blackburn previously and we have prepared really well.
“Our mentality never changes. It is right up there with the best I have seen, and I have been in some good teams in the past, especially with England youth teams. We take each game as it comes and don’t really think too much about the future.
“We are four points clear now but after one game that could mean nothing. So we keep everything the same – we prepare the same and just wait to play each game.
“We saw our mentality come through for us in the last game against Blackburn. The pitch at Southport is a bit of an equaliser at the moment because it is that time of year where the pitch isn’t at its best. So you need to play the conditions sometimes.
“But we were on top in that game and were really unfortunate to concede. But you could see that we had the mental strength to respond.”
That was something of a rare goal for the young Toffees to concede. It is not often they allow too many shots on goal, let alone one to beat the keeper.
Gibson, who has re-joined his teammates after recovering from ankle injuries, has slotted seamlessly back into a defence aiming to do their part to bring home success.
“We have conceded eight goals this season in 16 league games – that’s 0.5 goals a game, which is unbelievable,” he added.
“We are very strong defensively at the moment in one-v-ones, and we are aggressive and compact.
"When we go 1-0 up, we feel we can shut up shop and hold onto that.
“Obviously at our level it is not always the same back four but we have just got a way of playing. We all know our jobs and how important defending is and how massive it can have an effect.
“If you win, it will be the attackers who perhaps get the headlines but defensively we have got things down to a tee at the moment. And if you can do that, the attack can take care of itself. We have got good attacking players so we always feel we can get a goal.”