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Sean Dyche says Everton’s victory over Newcastle United is further evidence of his side’s growing mentality.
The Blues fired three goals past the Magpies on Thursday evening, picking up an important 3-0 victory, which sees the Toffees climb out of the relegation zone.
Through illness, James Garner was an absentee for the midweek match, prompting a reshuffle in the Everton line-up. Abdoulaye Doucoure dropped back to fill Garner’s position, while Jack Harrison tucked inside to play in Doucoure’s usual advanced central-midfield role.
Ashley Young operated on the right wing, and Seamus Coleman played his first Senior Team minutes of the season at right-back.
Everton manager Dyche was encouraged by his side’s ability to perform to a high level, despite the changes to the team, and was full of praise for his midfield pairing of Doucoure and Idrissa Gana Gueye.
"This group, we changed the side [and they replied]: 'OK gaffer, let's take it up',” said Dyche, speaking after the game and quoted by the Liverpool World. “That's where you want to be and it's getting better all of the time and getting stronger all of time.
“The last few weeks, I think Gana has been terrific and Douc dropping into a deep role - that's about mentality. When things are not quite right, players go: 'But I didn't have this' and they start asking questions, you can smell it and they're overthinking, which usually means they're not happy.
"We changed the side and they still performed. That's where you want to be. It's pleasing that the underbelly of a strong side is not just the quality, it's the feel of the whole group. That's the bit I'm pleased for. The hard yards for each other and the team connectivity has been excellent."
Coleman and Jordan Pickford both appeared to pick up knocks during the game, and the Everton manager provided updates on the pair in his post-match press conference.
"It was lastminute.com and we had to change the team at lunchtime,” said Dyche, quoted by the Liverpool ECHO. “I'm pleased for [Coleman]. I know what a fantastic pro he is.
“He has a minor situation, we think, which is unfortunate but that can happen, he has been out a long time. It's great to have him back, he wore the armband with pride like he does."
Pure passion from the skipper 💙— Everton (@Everton) December 7, 2023
Street End bouncing 🙌
You really do love to see it. pic.twitter.com/8jGpCn2HbI
Pickford continued the game after receiving treatment and Dyche is not concerned by his status as Everton prepare to face Chelsea at Goodison Park on Sunday (2pm GMT). He added: "He just got a niggly thing on his knee.
"I'll find out more tomorrow, you never like to talk about it until you find out 24 to 48 hours later. I don't think it's anything too serious."