Everton travel to Chelsea on Sunday and manager Marco Silva will have a big decision to make on his centrehalf pairing for the game. He has been using Michael Keane and Kurt Zouma together with a lot of success for the last few games, but on-loan Zouma is ineligible to play against his parent club this weekend.
The question now is whether new signing Yerry Mina will swap in for Zouma now that he is fully fit, or whether it’ll be Phil Jagielka or Mason Holgate coming back into the squad. Indeed, there is the unlikely chance as well that Silva opts for a three-man backline too.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference today, Silva wouldn’t reveal whether Mina was the automatic choice or not when asked if he would publicize his decision ahead of the game.
“No, like you expect! Like I said about Richarlison before, we have one more session tomorrow. As is normal for us, the players will know some hours before the match.
“Of course we are working this week to prepare for the match. It’s normal, I don’t always try to tell our players what our strategy for the match will be. In some moments it’s easy, in some it’s not so easy for them to find out.
“It’s possible they have an idea, but it’s not my way to tell our players days before the match what will be our XI.”
Speaking about Mina though, Silva added -
“His quality on the pitch is a little bit different to a player like Zouma, a different profile, but for sure he’ll bring quality to our squad.”
Michael Keane seems more and more like a Premier League top six calibre defender as the season progresses, a far cry from his struggles last season. He received a call-up to the England national side too for the upcoming break after Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate was at Goodison Park last weekend for the 3-1 win over Brighton & Hove Albion.
“It’s a big difference to be honest. He’s not the same Michael that I saw in the pre-season and the first match as well.
“It’s normal, he’s improving. He’s understanding our defensive process as a team. He comes here every day to learn and understand better what we want. He’s playing with more confidence as well.
“For me his value is more now than he was last season or what I saw in the pre-season. Michael now is more like what we expect. He has conditions to improve.”
Silva was asked about where he thought Keane’s ceiling would be.
“Since the first day I told you, our job here is to win the matches and achieve good results. As part of that we continue to develop our squad and develop our players as well.
“It’s part of my job, it’s something I really like to do, when a player like Michael, after a difficult last season, improving his performances and for him to go the national team is part of our job.
“Not just him, we achieved that with other players as well, like Kurt Zouma, Lucas Digne and some others. For them to return to the national team it’s really important for us and part of my job.”