Healthy Competition Driving Blues

Jonjoe Kenny says his tussle with Seamus Coleman for Everton’s right-back spot is driving on both players – but the duo’s “healthy contest” is secondary to their team’s fortunes.

Kenny returned to Everton’s starting line-up as a battlefield promotion at Newcastle United last week when Irishman Coleman went down ill shortly before kick-off.

The two defenders are vying for one position in the side – although Kenny has twice filled in at left-back recently – with boss Marco Silva giving 30-year-old Coleman the nod for the lion’s share of Premier League games this term.

The senior man started against Cardiff City and Liverpool before being forced out of the Newcastle clash.

Kenny has lined up in eight top-flight matches under Silva to add to the 17 starts he made last term following his full debut against Arsenal in October 2017.

And the Academy graduate, who turns 22 on Friday, insists he was unperturbed by his late call at St James’ Park.

“It was fine and I am always prepared to play,” Kenny told evertontv.

“I knew what the manager needed from me and where I had to be on set-pieces.

“I just make sure that if anything does happen, I am ready, and I felt I was ready for that match.

“It is a healthy contest between me and Seamus. If he is playing I will back him and vice versa. We just want to do what is best for the team.

“We need to get points on the board and creep up the table.”

Kenny teamed up with Richarlison on Everton’s right flank at Newcastle, where the Brazilian attacker netted his 11th Premier League goal of the season.

It was the fifth time the two players have started together – and the first occasion on which they have been deployed on the same side of the pitch.

Kenny was alert defensively – completing five clearances and five interceptions – and frequently raided forward to help out Richarlison, the Englishman having 80 touches of the ball, fewer only than fellow full-back Lucas Digne, who had 87.

Richarlison equally worked hard both ways. His strike was his 12th in all competitions for Everton and added to three for Brazil this term.

The dynamic 21-year-old has aimed 60 shots at goal in this season’s Premier League and consistently applied himself off the ball.

Richarlison has made 36 tackles, blocked 21 shots and completed nine interceptions and 34 clearances.

He will likely add to his six Brazil caps in friendly matches against Panama and Czech Republic during the forthcoming international break.

Kenny, meanwhile, will join up with England Under-21s as the Young Lions continue their preparations for this summer’s European Championship with games against Poland and Germany.

And he insists Everton are determined to secure a positive result against Chelsea at Goodison Park on Sunday before national team football takes over for a fortnight.

“We have eight games left and it doesn’t matter who is playing, we want to be winning as many of them as possible,” added Kenny.

“We all need to stick together and show the character and determination to win games and improve our position in the table.

“Richarlison always puts in a great shift and he is an excellent footballer. It was a tough game at Newcastle, they played five at the back, but he worked very hard and got the goal he deserved.

“It was just really disappointing how the game finished but we have a lot of very good players and want to go and win as many games as we can.”

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