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Thursday 18 July 2019

No more excuses says Everton boss Ronald Koeman ahead of Burnley match

Ronald Koeman's Everton were held to a 2-2 draw at home by Apollon Limassol on Thursday..
Ronald Koeman's Everton were held to a 2-2 draw at home by Apollon Limassol on Thursday..

Everton boss Ronald Koeman has stressed it is "not time to find any more excuses" as the Toffees look to generate some positive headlines when they host Burnley on Sunday.

Koeman's men disappointed again on Thursday as they were held to a 2-2 draw at Goodison Park by Cypriot outfit Apollon Limassol in the Europa League.

That halted what had been something of a revival, with Everton having won back-to-back matches against Sunderland in the Carabao Cup and Bournemouth in the Premier League after losing four in a row in a six-game winless streak.

Koeman said ahead of the league clash with Burnley: "It's not time to find any more excuses, because that's not counting for you.

"The next game is on Sunday. With a win, everyone will be happy and maybe 'Everton are back', that will be the newspaper on Monday.

"If we don't win, the newspaper will be totally different. But that's football and I accept that way of thinking."

Koeman feels the gap between Thursday's and Sunday's fixtures does not give Everton enough time to properly work on what they need to, but he also thinks it is perhaps a good thing to so swiftly have an opportunity to move on from the Apollon match.

He said: "We had a session (on Friday), but that was to recover. It is a short session on Saturday, and then we play on Sunday.

"If you play European football, you don't have time. (But) maybe it's good to have the next game close by after Thursday."

Koeman only made three changes to his starting line-up on Thursday, and he added when asked about that: "It's more difficult.

"Arsenal played in the Europa League (away against BATE Borisov) and kept all their important players at home.

"They won the their first game (Arsenal beat Cologne 3-1 in their Europa League group opener, while Everton lost 3-0 to Atalanta), and are in not such a difficult group. It makes a totally different situation.

"With the injuries we have, the players we have available is less than we expected, and that makes it even more tough to play on Thursday and then Sunday.

"But we like to go on in Europe, because it is good for experience."

Everton, who will give late fitness tests to Michael Keane (foot) and Phil Jagielka (hamstring), have a notable player fresh to return on Sunday in Oumar Niasse, scorer of one goal in the Sunderland match and two in the Bournemouth contest.

The striker, formerly an outcast at the club, could not play on Thursday as he was not included in Everton's squad for the Europa League group stage.

Koeman, who on Thursday claimed his players had been "scared" and "afraid" in the way they had performed, said of Niasse: "He is playing with confidence, scoring goals and brings aggression to the team, and I think that's what we need for Sunday.

"Make it simple for yourself, even play more direct football, and the confidence will grow in the game, if you get chances, if you win second balls."

PA Media

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