LIVERPOOL, United Kingdom- Michael Keane believes Everton FC are playing with “more confidence and freedom” and insists the Toffees are determined to finish the season on a high.
The centre-back played in his first Merseyside derby on Saturday and rose to the occasion – producing one of his best performances since arriving at Goodison Park from Burnley last summer.
Keane caught the eye alongside skipper Phil Jagielka at the heart of the Everton defence, as the Blues limited Liverpool to just three shots on target in the goalless derby draw.
The 25-year-old completed 10 clearances against the Reds – more than any other player on the pitch – while his 76.1 per cent passing accuracy highlighted his quality in possession.
The Toffees finished the clash against their city rivals as the dominant force – and Keane says the squad are intent on building on this display in their remaining five Premier League games of the campaign.
“We are playing with a lot more confidence and freedom,” he said. “And with that extra experience in the side we have a lot more voices in the team. A few wins have given us that confidence and hopefully we can kick on now.
“We should have beaten Liverpool, really, and it would have been brilliant if we could have done. It is massive for the fans and players and we gave it our best shot.
“But in the end a clean sheet is not too bad.”
The England defender has been a regular fixture in the Everton side in recent months, with Saturday’s derby clash representing his ninth Premier League start on the spin.
While Keane continues to impress in recent weeks, the centre-back feels two of his talented young teammates continue to thrive under boss Sam Allardyce.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Academy graduate Beni Baningime were both praised by the Everton manager for injecting energy into the hosts’ display after coming on as substitutes last weekend, and Keane was also eager to hail their contributions.
“The Club has a lot of great young players,” Keane said. “They put trust in the youth. Both of the lads did really when they came on.
“Dom put in a great shift down the left and caused trouble when he came on – and had a good chance (to score).
“Beni did what he does. He keeps it relatively simple but breaks up play really well. He is great to play with as a defender, he is always in the right position.
“The Club has a great youth system and it is good that they can bring them through.”
Keane’s focus is now on Everton’s clash at Swansea City on Saturday. The Toffees dug deep to secure a 2-1 win at Stoke City in their last away game and are now eyeing back-to-back victories on the road.
After finishing the Merseyside derby firmly in the ascendancy, Keane says the Blues must aim to pick up straight where they left off.
“We have to start on the front foot like we did at the end against Liverpool,” he said. “We really got stuck into them and penned them in and that will stand us in good stead.”
-Material used to compile this report sourced from official Everton FC website, read more here