Frank Lampard said his Everton team passed a “test of character” in Tuesday night’s 1-0 Carabao Cup victory at Fleetwood Town but believes the Blues can improve their quality in key areas.
Everton were made to work hard for their win against a dogged Fleetwood outfit but Demarai Gray’s 28th-minute strike ensured the Blues' progress to the third round of the competition.
Lampard explained how the match also offered a vital opportunity to players to get valuable game time ahead of a busy fixture schedule.
“There are parts of the performance I liked," said Lampard, who gave competitive debuts to Academy graduates Lewis Warrington and Stanley Mills.
"Also, individuals got some important minutes – such as our captain [Seamus Coleman] who came in and had a great attitude – and some players grew into the game
"We can improve. I wanted a bit more intensity off the ball at times. And the quality of our play, moments when we can make a killer pass and take control of the game, I thought we were a little bit loose at times.
“It was a test of character and a test of quality.
“I think we succeeded on the test of character, for sure, but we could have been better at times on the test of quality.
“Fleetwood gave us a good match. They’re a physical team. In that sense it was a good challenge for us.
"In terms of our performance, it wasn’t amazing, but I’ve played in many nights like these – and been beaten on nights like this as well – so I understand they’re not easy.”
Summer signing Amadou Onana made his first Everton start in the game and completed the full 90 minutes. Lampard believes the experience will be an important step in the 21-year-old’s acclimatisation to English football.
“I thought Amadou grew into the game really well,” he said.
“He has not had a lot of days in training before coming here, and he's moving to a new league, a new speed, new physicality... He found that out tonight. I thought he played well.
“Some of his passing across the pitch was really good – it was flat, he was getting the balls to our wing-backs and wingers quickly, he was playing through lines. There were lots of good things. His attitude was great, too. It was spot on.”
The Everton boss also had words of praise for Alex Iwobi, who delivered yet another high-calibre performance in central midfield.
Indeed, the Nigerian’s display saw him voted as man of the match by Evertonians.
Lampard added: "Alex is playing at a really high level where he plays – midfield, higher up the pitch – and he works off the ball and he's huge player for this squad.
“We're delighted with his performances and since I've been here he's been getting better and better. He's started the season in great form."