Everton defender Michael Keane admits Sunday’s Premier League trip to Bournemouth will mark a crucial test of his side’s credentials for a top-six finish this season.
The Toffees head to the south coast in good heart after bouncing back from their below-par defeat at Aston Villa with a 3-2 win over Wolves before the international break.
The 26-year-old, who has been a fixture in Gareth Southgate’s recent England sides, believes a first away win of the season will give his team’s campaign a timely lift-off.
Keane told Everton’s official website: “We want to get an away victory as soon as possible. If we want to push into the top six or even higher, that is what we have to do.
“We know we won’t win them all, but more often than not we have to go to the teams we want to be ahead of and win at these places. This is what we’ll try to do on Sunday.”
Toffees boss Marco Silva is still without Jean-Philippe Gbamin, who has been sidelined by a calf strain since the second game of the season, plus back-up goalkeeper Jonas Lossl.
Silva reported a clean bill of health from the international break and may also be tempted to turn to out-of-favour Cenk Tosun, who scored twice in Turkey’s 4-0 win in Moldova.
However, Keane is unsurprisingly more concerned with his side’s defensive record, with two clean sheets from their four league games this season.
Keane added: “We were gutted when we conceded against Wolves. We were quite unlucky with the first goal but we should have done better on the second.
“If you look at how we have been defending over the long run, we will get back to that. It is something we are all very proud of, not just as defenders.”
Keane’s ambition is mirrored by boss Silva, who also acknowledged that away victories over the likes of Bournemouth are essential for the club to continue to rise.
Silva told a press conference: “For all teams in the Premier League, it is tough to play away. We clearly improved on our away performances last season.
“But as a club we want more. They players know I always want more and they want more also. The ambition is big and it is up to us to prove that every day in training and in the matches.”
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