Michael Keane has spoken of the confidence playing in front of “top class” keeper Jordan Pickford brings for both Club and country.
The Everton duo both played the full 90 minutes as England got their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign off to a flying start with a 5-0 win over Czech Republic at Wembley on Friday night.
Keane, earning his sixth cap and making his first competitive Three Lions outing since October 2017, produced an assured display alongside Pickford to put Gareth Southgate's side in fine fettle going into Monday's qualifier away to Montenegro.
It follows the two Toffees' impressive performances in their previous outing for the Blues, shutting out Chelsea in last Sunday’s 2-0 victory at Goodison in what was their third clean sheet in four games.
Pickford made a vital stop early in the encounter to keep out Eden Hazard’s goalbound effort, before blocking Gonzalo Higuain’s deflected effort with a remarkable save shortly after Richarlison had headed the Toffees in front.
Keane was full of praise for the role his Blues and international colleague played in securing three points against the Londoners and revealed what it meant to have a keeper of Pickford’s quality in the Everton line-up.
“I think his mentality is top class,” the centre-back told evertonfc.com. “He does not let things affect him. You have seen that previously and you saw it again against Chelsea.
“He made some great saves, some that look easy to the fans at home but aren’t, when the ball is wobbling and bouncing in front of you.
"I thought he dealt with everything very well, so credit to him.
“It helps your confidence when you have someone who is always talking to you and who can get you out of trouble. Jordan is capable of that.
“It is great to have him in goal. He is a fantastic keeper and we are delighted he is at Everton with us.”
Following on from his impressive display at Goodison in the goalless Merseyside derby, Keane was back catching the eye at the Grand Old Lady last Sunday to thwart Chelsea’s array of attacking talent.
The 26-year-old completed seven clearances on the day – more than any other player on the pitch – made three interceptions and blocked two shots.
Only four players have made more headed clearances than Keane’s 95 throughout this Premier League season. His 157 clearances in all ranks 10th highest in the division.
With Kurt Zouma ineligible to play against parent club Chelsea last weekend, Keane was partnered in central defence by summer signing Yerry Mina – the duo also combining to shut out Chelsea in the goalless draw at Stamford Bridge in November when the Colombian made his Premier League debut.
Keane highlighted Mina’s qualities in helping Everton to a clean sheet and explained his confidence that, along with Zouma and Club captain Phil Jagielka, the Blues’ backline can keep improving.
“Yerry did really well and settled into the game quickly,” added Keane. “You can see the quality he has, he is a good player on the ball and very physical.
“He showed away against Chelsea what he was capable of and he continued that last Sunday. He did very well.
“Our communication is getting better. He is learning more English and we are teaching each other little sayings in training. We are always talking. If he hears me, he will look across, which helps him.
“With Kurt and Jags, there is a lot of competition in central defence and we can use that to keep improving.”