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Silva backs under-fire Walcott

Blues manager is not worried about winger’s recent drop in form, and talks Mina, Zouma, Richarlison and Lookman

Everton FC v West Ham United - Premier League
Walcott’s recent performances have come in for criticism from some quarters
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Marco Silva says he still has faith in winger Theo Walcott, despite the 29-year-old receiving criticism for his recent performances.

Walcott, who has three goals this season, missed key changes to add to his tally at home to Crystal Palace a fortnight ago and in the away defeat to Manchester United on Sunday.

He was also seemingly reprimanded by team-mates Jordan Pickford and Seamus Coleman for failing to stop Anthony Martial from doubling United’s lead early in the second half.

But Silva refuted this in his press conference ahead of tomorrow’s game at home to Brighton & Hove Albion, saying:

“Jordan and Coleman didn’t that, for sure. They are team mates. They are a team. when we’re inside, of course, it’s what I want - all of them speaking to each other, to help each other, but never to criticise.

“It’s football. sometimes we have a fantastic afternoon and everything goes well for you, and on others not so well. It’s about our attitude, our commitment and our ambition. I saw in all of them this commitment that I want with our work.

“I have to repeat, even against Crystal Palace, it’s football. If he scored in that moment, maybe it was the moment for us to go 1-0 up early in the game, his confidence goes higher.

“It’s not just with him; all of our forwards need goals. All of them have all of my confidence to play at their level. I keep working with them to improve these types of things and I’ll keep supporting them.”

Silva is not overly concerned that the defeat at Old Trafford, which ended a run of three consecutive league wins for the Blues, will have done a great deal of damage to morale among the squad.

But he is well aware that, against the Seagulls at Goodison Park on Saturday, Everton must improve on their last showing to beat a side also on a run of three straight victories:

“It was a disappointing result for us because I think what we did could have achieved a different result. Some of the moments of the match have decided the result but we challenged them. It’s finished.

“Again, it’s a tough game for us, sure, and it’s a game where we have to play our best again to win the match.”

Silva was also asked whether he is tempted to drop Kurt Zouma for fellow central defender Yerry Mina for Saturday’s match.

Zouma, on loan from Chelsea, will be ineligible for next weekend’s trip to Stamford Bridge, and Mina has yet to make his Toffees debut since completing his £27 million transfer from Barcelona in August.

In order to not throw Mina into the deep end for his Blues bow next weekend, it was insinuated that he might be eased in alongside Michael Keane on Saturday, to gain an understanding with his new colleague before a much tougher test at Chelsea.

But Silva insisted he is not thinking about anything past tomorrow’s game at this point:

“Our focus is preparing our players to be ready, and Mina is ready to play if I take the decision. I know how he is working but in our minds, we just stay on one game, this Brighton match, nothing more.

“This moment we think nothing about Chelsea. our focus is on all tomorrow’s match.

Silva also said wide man Ademola Lookman is edging closer to a first league start to the season, having been impressed with the 21-year-old both on the pitch and at Finch Farm lately.

Lookman came off the bench against Palace to set up Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s headed goal, and made a bright cameo appearance at Old Trafford on Sunday.

But Silva said he wants this sort of competition for places all over the pitch, rather than just on the flanks:

“He is pushing not just Theo, but Bernard, because of the way he’s working now.

“But it is the same thing I want in the other positions as well and it’s important for me to have these types of problems to decide.”

Silva also kept quiet on whether he would keep faith with Richarlison as a striker on Saturday.

The Brazilian scored in his first game up front against Leicester City, but has not had the same impact in following games against Palace and United.

But the boss has been pleased with the £50 million summer signing’s showings since he ousted Cenk Tosun as the club’s number one striker:

“[He has] some things to improve, but this is normal. It’s not a new position to him but it’s something he didn’t do often in the last two seasons, and just some moments this season as well. Now he’s doing it more often, even in training sessions as well.

“He can give important things for us, he is different to Cenk, [Oumar] Niasse or Dominic [Calvert-Lewin]. He’s doing well in his attitude and behaviour.

“He’s a very good example for everyone. He works and fights every minute of the match as well. Again, it’s possible if he scores it will assist his confidence.

“It can change, of course. If you see all our Premier League matches we already started with Cenk some games. We already started with Dominic for two games as well and Richarlison for three games.

“My job is to decide the 11 I think is the strongest to start the match.”