Sylvain Distin expects Everton to profit from the extra injection of confidence Lucas Digne and Kurt Zouma will have received after representing world champions France during the international break.
The defensive duo moved to Goodison Park in the summer and were recalled to their national team following excellent starts to the campaign.
Former Barcelona player Digne won his 22nd France cap against Iceland last Thursday after starting five Premier League matches this term.
Centre-back Zouma, who signed for Everton on loan from Chelsea on August’s transfer deadline day, also featured in France’s 2-2 draw with Iceland after 14 months out of the international fold.
“Their call ups indicate just how well the two players have done this season and reflects well on the Club,” former Toffees centre-back Distin told evertonfc.com.
“If you play for your country, it is because you merit your selection and it is great for them both.
“They have been on the national team’s radar for a while, so if they are playing regularly and consistently well, they will be in the manager’s plans.
“It is a boost to go away and play for your country – especially if you have not done it for a while.
“It is a mental boost and gives you a lot of confidence. They will bring that back to Everton now, which is great for the team. And it is good for Everton to be providing players for top international sides.”
Digne set up a goal for Dominic Calvert-Lewin on his full Premier League debut against Huddersfield Town last month, when Zouma also made his first top-flight start for the Club.
The pair have since retained their starting spots and helped Everton record successive victories over Fulham and Leicester City before joining up with France.
Zouma’s strength and anticipation are proving valuable assets at the heart of Everton’s backline. The 23-year-old, who has played 47 Premier League matches for Chelsea and added another 37 appearances on loan at Stoke City last season, made nine clearances, six interceptions and three tackles in his side’s past two games alone.
“I think he was a very good signing for Everton,” said Distin, who played 210 matches in six years with the Club after joining from Portsmouth in 2009.
“There are not many defenders of his type left in the Premier League. He really likes defending – he is a defender first and foremost.
“I like this type of player – he is what I would call ‘old school’.
Heureux d’avoir pu rejouer avec ce maillot 🙏🏿🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/WNXd8H8wgf
— Kurt Zouma (@KurtZouma) October 12, 2018
“It is a big benefit for the Club to have someone like him who has learned a lot playing for big teams and with big players – he has a good personality as well.
“You want to play for a club that gives you the possibility to compete. That is what Zouma has at Everton and I think it was a great move for him.”
Left-back Digne is establishing himself as an influential figure in Marco Silva’s enterprising team.
He had more touches of the ball than any other Everton player in the matches against Leicester and Arsenal and has supplied 40 crosses this term – placing him in the top six for defenders in the Premier League despite playing only four minutes of his side’s opening three games.
The 25-year-old’s defending is proving sound, too. Digne won 10 duels in the 2-1 win at Leicester, as well recovering possession eight times and making light of his slight frame to win six aerial contests.
On the international front, Digne is jousting for a position with Manchester City raider Benjamin Mendy and Lucas Hernandez, the immaculate Atletico Madrid full-back who played every minute of France’s triumphant World Cup campaign in Russia.
Digne started and finished the friendly with Iceland, while Zouma played the second 45 minutes after replacing Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane. Manager Didier Deschamps reverted to the bulk of his World Cup-winning starting XI for Tuesday night's Nations League victory over Germany in Paris.
“Every player has different ways of handling the challenge when you have others behind you waiting for their chances,” said Distin, who, in common with Digne, played 44 times for Paris Saint-Germain.
“Some crumble under that type of pressure but I loved it. I enjoyed the challenge and I think Lucas would as well.
“International managers pick players because they are performing well for their clubs.
“The way Everton play is giving Lucas a chance to show his all-round game – then it is up to the player to perform within the structure the manager wants and that is how he earned his recall.