Michael Keane has revealed how he is “buzzing to be back” in the Everton team and playing his part in lifting the Blues up the Premier League table.
The 30-year-old centre-back has started the past three matches for Sean Dyche’s side, including Saturday’s vital 1-0 victory over in-form Brentford at Goodison Park.
Prior to that, Keane had featured just once in the league in 2022/23 – coming off the bench in the reverse fixture against the Bees in August.
The arrival of Dyche has given Keane a fresh start at Goodison, the defender having been signed by the manager at Burnley and working together for three years at Turf Moor prior to Keane’s move to Merseyside in 2017.
Keane was integral to Everton battling to three points on Saturday alongside his former Clarets teammate James Tarkowski in central defence, as another familiar face from Burnley, Dwight McNeil, hit the all-important winner after just 35 seconds.
“I’m buzzing to be back, to be honest,” Keane told evertontv. “I’m feeling part of it again, just really pleased.
“I didn’t play for a long time but I’ve been training really well and waited for my chance. When the new manager came in, I hoped I’d get my chance at some point, I just had to be patient.
“I was working really hard every day. I’ve got a few games under my belt now and feel fitter and hopefully I can carry on getting better. I’m really happy to be back in and helping the team.”
On partnering Tarkowski against Brentford – but having the likes of Conor Coady, Yerry Mina, Ben Godfrey and Mason Holgate competing for centre-back spots – Keane added: “James is a great player, someone who I have known for many years. It’s always helpful, it makes it easier [to come back into the side], but all the centre-halves here are top players.
“I could play with any one of them and it would be the same so we’ve got a lot of competition and that’s what you want. It brings the best out of everyone.”
McNeil stole the show with Everton’s fifth fastest Premier League goal, collecting a pass from Abdoulaye Doucoure, taking two touches before rifling a cracking 20-yard drive across goal.
The winger has thrived since reuniting with Dyche for the Blues – and Keane believes Evertonians are now getting to see the 23-year-old summer signing’s real quality.
“It was a special finish,” he said. “We know Dwight has that in his locker – we see it in training all the time. It was nice to see him put one in like that in a match. He practises that all the time so I’m really pleased for Dwight.
“It was a great goal, a really good start to the game, and it got the fans up for it and behind us early on which is always important at home.
“Dwight’s a brilliant player: technically, he can dribble, the way he crosses, the way he strikes the ball. He looks like he’s playing with a lot more freedom since the new manager came in and that’s credit to Dwight and the manager; the work they are doing on the training pitch.
“He looks confident and everyone is starting to see what a good player he is. He’s a great lad so I’m really happy for him.”
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DYCHE: WHAT'S NEEDED TO BUILD ON BRENTFORD WIN
Victory over Brentford – who came into the clash unbeaten in 12 league matches - moved Everton up to 15th in the Premier League table and made it three wins from four at Goodison since Dyche took charge, keeping clean sheets in all of those triumphs.
“It’s a big three points,” Keane added. “We know the situation we’ve got ourselves into so our home games are massive. The biggest thing for where we are is our home form so to start like we have under the new manager at home is brilliant and we need to carry on.
“We knew it was going to be tough, they’ve been on a good run, but we believe at home we can challenge anyone and we were really up for it. You could see in the first half how we wanted to approach the game. We created a lot of chances and, on another day, we could have gone in [at half-time] three goals ahead.
“But I thought we dug deep in the second half. We under a bit of pressure and could maybe have shown a bit more bravery to play more like we did in the first half but I think, in the position we are in, just to dig in, keep a clean sheet and win 1-0 is a great result.”