Everton's Keane details challenge to Gareth Southgate following England snub

It is a sign of the player Michael Keane has become that when he was left out of the last England squad, the first thing he did was seek answers from Gareth Southgate.

The Everton defender didn’t agree with everything Southgate told him during a telephone conversation that left him in no doubt that while the door had not been closed on his Euro hopes, the 28-year-old Mancunian still had to boot it open.

So Keane goes into the final three games of the season on a double mission – to help his club qualify for Europe and in doing so prove to Southgate that he deserves to be part of his plans for the summer.

“I was disappointed not to be in the last squad, so I know I’ve got to finish the season well and see what happens,” said Keane.

“I was surprised I wasn’t in it. I’d been in a lot of squads before that and I was playing really well.

“Also I didn’t get told about it. I only found out when it got announced on Sky.

Michael Keane of Everton and Phil Foden of Manchester City
Keane has impressed for Everton this term

“So I called Gareth on the night it was announced. Obviously I’m going to keep the actual conversation between ourselves.

“But I thought I was going to be in it and I hadn’t had an explanation. So I wanted to know why, I wanted to know what I had to work on and what I had to do to improve.

“There were obviously things I didn’t agree with – but I think that’s normal when you’ve not been picked. I’m going to be frustrated.

“But at least I know the door is still open. I’ve just got to keep playing well and see what happens.

“I know what I need to work on, what I need to do to get myself back in it.

“That’s the main thing that I got out of the call.”

England boss Southgate can name a 26-man squad
England boss Southgate can name a 26-man squad

It is only a year ago that Keane spoke so honestly about the mental issues he suffered during his first season at Goodison following his £25million arrival from Burnley.

He played through the pain of a serious foot injury when it became clear that Ronald Koeman’s future as Everton manager was in the balance.

And when the Dutchman was sacked, he struggled to come to terms with the feeling of failure.

So when Keane was asked about how Carlo Ancelotti’s plan to take the Merseyside club back into Europe has been undermined by a wretched home record that threatens to undo all the good work Everton have done away from Goodison, he did not dodge the issue.

Everton's Italian head coach Carlo Ancelotti
Everton’s Italian head coach Carlo Ancelotti

Everton face relegated Sheffield United followed by struggling Wolves and champions Manchester City.

And Keane said: “We probably need to win all three games. It is obviously a big ask but we know we can do it.

“There’s no getting away from the fact that our home form hasn’t been good enough.

“I think we’ve really missed the fans but even without the fans we should have done a lot better than what we have.

“We’ve obviously had one or two bad spells but if we didn’t finish in Europe at all I think it would be a disappointing season for Everton.

“I think we’ve shown a lot of promise, a lot of improvement this year.

“I think you can see that the team is getting better and we are improving as a team.

“But with the season we’ve had and where we’ve been all season, I think we have shown we are good enough to finish in the European places.”

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