Michael Keane has opened up about how his injury problems at Everton have contributed to him still trying to re-discover his best form at Goodison Park.
The centre-back has been hit by a number of small niggling issues since his £24m transfer from Burnley last summer, and is currently sidelined with a recurrence of the gashed foot he sustained during September's Carabao Cup win over Sunderland.
Speaking to the Blues' official website, Keane explained how he had felt his knocks - coupled with Everton's trying start to the campaign - had ensured his confidence and form had taken a hit as he looked to settle into life on Merseyside.
He said: “My first few months here were really positive, we began solidly in the Europa League and had a few good results in the Premier League.
“I was playing well but then the team lost a little bit of form and, as a squad, we went through a really tough few months, which I was part of. I probably lost a bit of confidence – like a few of the lads.
“I have had a few injuries as well, which I have not been used to. That has thrown me a bit, because in the past few years I have normally played every game.
“I ended up in hospital and on a load of tablets, which left me feeling not as sharp and well in myself as I usually do. That had an effect, but, also, not getting the results and not performing as well as you want to on the pitch brings down your confidence.”
The Toffees' form on the pitch saw a remarkable turnaround upon Sam Allardyce's arrival in late November, with the 63-year-old leading Everton on an eight-match unbeaten run in all competitions.
Results have taken a nosedive recently, however, with four successive defeats in all competitions and only one goal notched during that time.
Michael Keane yapping away again talking himself up. He’s been absolutely dire for me... positionally awful, and very very slow. Struggle to find excuses for how bad he’s been tbh.— colin morris (@colin0306) January 16, 2018
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Despite that, Keane - who has vowed that he still 'has a lot of learning to do' - stated his belief that Allardyce's appointment has only helped to lift Everton's spirits in the weeks since he penned an 18-month contract.
He added: “When the new manager came in he really lifted the place, he brought a buzz back, and we got some great results. He drills the basics into you, which is very important.
“I worked through that tough period but then picked up another injury against Manchester United, which was frustrating for me.
“We have to perform well in training every day and work really hard to prove to the manager we deserve to play. But, hopefully, once I am back from this injury I can stay fit and really kick on.”