Marco Silva has reassured Michael Keane that being dropped for club and country “is not the end of the world” and the Everton manager believes it will make the defender stronger.
Gareth Southgate dropped Keane, whose form has dipped since an error on international duty in October, from his 27-man England squad to face Montenegro and Kosovo this week, with Manchester City’s John Stones recalled at his expense.
Keane was a late substitute as Everton earned their first Premier League away win since March at Southampton on Saturday, with Mason Holgate impressing in the centre of defence alongside Yerry Mina. Danny Ings cancelled out Tom Davies’s header before Richarlison struck a sweet winner to condemn Southampton to a fourth successive defeat.
Asked how Keane is after being left out for Everton and now England, Silva replied: “Strong and he will become strong. Michael Keane has all my support, like he had in the past when I joined the club, how he was and how he is at this moment.
“Of course the others are playing well. Michael Keane will keep working really hard. Sometimes, if you spend some games on the bench, it is not the end of the world and Michael Keane knows that and he will become stronger because he has quality and I believe in him. Normally I speak with all my players. When they don’t have their best moments I am always there to support them.”
Richarlison scored his second goal in three matches to secure victory and Silva said no one is more delighted than him to see the Brazilian’s progress. Silva signed the forward for Watford two years ago and for Everton a year later, when Richarlison joined in a deal that could reach £50m.
“We have a fantastic relationship,” Silva said. “He came to the Premier League when he was 20 years old. He was a young boy who spoke no English. I am one of the happiest people in the world when I see him achieving what he has achieved.
“We [Everton] did a big effort as a club to sign him. He is doing well because our fans love him. Its good to see him scoring and it is good to see him recognise that we are important for him as well. Seeing Richarlison being a Brazilian international is fantastic for me and seeing how he is playing and how the fans love him as well. He deserves it.”
Last week Silva launched a staunch defence of Richarlison after accusations that the forward goes to ground too easily and the Portuguese admitted he broached the subject at a meeting with Mike Riley, manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited, on Thursday.
“I am here to protect my players until the end,” Silva said. “I have to work with them and we are working with Richarlison to be stronger. I said something to the referees about that situation but Richarlison is not a diver. He is a worker, he is a big, big talent and I repeat: zero yellow cards [for diving] in two seasons and a half.”