BBC Sport pundit Noel Whelan has ripped into Everton’s Michael Keane, after the defender carried his ailing club form onto the international stage with another ‘pathetic’ showing.
Keane is one of three men to have played each available minute of Premier League action under Marco Silva this season, alongside goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and central defensive partner Yerry Mina (WhoScored), but has left Whelan amazed that he maintains his place in Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions squad.
The 26-year-old earned his tenth senior England cap on Thursday night (TransferMarkt) as Southgate’s side were shocked by the Czech Republic in a Euro 2020 qualifier (Sky Sports), in what was the Three Lions’ first qualifying defeat in over ten years.
Keane and Tottenham Hotspur’s Danny Rose were heavily singled out for their efforts in the result, with Sky Sports awarding the Toffees’ £30million (BBC) man a four out of ten in their post-game player ratings.
The key Blues’ regular was singled out for his ‘shaky performance’ that will have damaged his hopes of maintaining his place above Joe Gomez, Tyrone Mings and Fikayo Tomori in Southgate’s pecking order, as Keane’s slack marking allowed Jakub Brabec to equalise in the ninth minute and was caught out of position for Zdenek Ondrasek’s winning effort.
Keane’s moments of weakness have become very regular, and Whelan admits he finds it ‘baffling’ how he fails to sense the danger.
“I’ve watched Keane’s positioning and it’s been abysmal,” Whelan told Football Insider. “Everton can’t defend set-pieces and he’s meant to be one of their best in the air.
“The zonal marking system has been a disaster, but Keane has to deal with it better. It’s baffling how he didn’t deal with [the] balls into the box better against Burnley.
“He is a professional player, an international player. It was pathetic defending. If he doesn’t see the problem, there is something wrong. We’ve seen a lot of that from him this season. I have no idea how he’s still in the England side.”
Manchester-born born Keane was heavily criticised the last time he represented England, as well, with suggestions raised at the time that Southgate would be starting to question whether he can trust him again after faltering in playing the ball out from the back (Telegraph).
Southgate kept his trust in Keane against the Czech Republic, but it would not be surprising if the England boss has a change of heart on Monday when the Three Lions travel to Bulgaria.
But Silva does not have the same luxury to chop-and-change his defensive core at Everton when results go astray, and the Portuguese will likely be fretting Keane maintaining his current form when league action recommences next week.
Keane followed his slack display against Kosovo with a questionable afternoon against Bournemouth (Liverpool Echo), after all, and played a key role in a disorganised unit against Sheffield United, and failed to deal with the danger against Burnley, as Whelan pointed to.
It is now more than a month since Keane put on an impressive display, and Everton cannot afford that, with the Toffees set to face West Ham United inside the bottom three of the Premier League standings.
Everton fans, can Silva afford to bench Keane and hand Mason Holgate his first Premier League start of the season against the Hammers? Let us know in the comments below…
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