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Ancelotti challenges Michael Keane to prove his worth to England

Ancelotti challenges Michael Keane to prove his worth to England
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The 28-year-old centre-back has been one of Everton's most consistent performers this season.

Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti has challenged Michael Keane to use his England snub as motivation to convince Gareth Southgate he deserves a place at Euro 2020.

The 28-year-old centre-back has been one of the club's most consistent performers this season, making the most Premier League appearances of any player in the squad, but despite this he did not make the cut for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland.

Ancelotti insists the player should not be concerned by his omission and instead look to make his point over the remainder of the season.

"I didn't speak to him about this," said the Italian.

"I think it is the decision of the coach of the national team and the only way to change this is to work hard and to be focused on what he is doing.

"This season was good, really good. He played for the national team but in this period he is not going to play for the national team but it doesn't matter.

"I think he has to be focused on the Euros and he has two months to convince Southgate he is ready for the national team.

"There are a lot of good centre-backs in England. I think Michael doesn't have to be worried about this, it can be an opportunity to try to be better in what he is doing.

"He is doing really well, his season is really good, but I think he can do better, he can do more. He has to be focused there to try to improve."

Keane's importance to Everton will take on greater significance when Manchester City visit for Saturday's FA Cup quarter-final, a match Ancelotti accepts is the most important of his 15-month reign.

Everton will be without both senior goalkeepers as Jordan Pickford is ruled out after the recurrence of a rib problem against Burnley last weekend while number two Robin Olsen has not recovered from an injury which has sidelined him for four matches.

It means the 21-year-old Joao Virginia, who made his Premier League debut replacing Pickford just before half-time last Saturday, will now make his first FA Cup appearance and only his third in total since joining the club from Arsenal in 2018.

"I'm not worried because Joao is a young goalkeeper, without experience for this kind of game but he has a lot of quality and he showed his quality against Burnley when he had the opportunity," added Ancelotti.

"Where I am worried now is the team has to play (the way) like we tried this week to put in place the right strategy for the game and I hope that the team is able to do this.

"I will not complain about the players who are not available. It will be a difficult game but I don't think it will be an easy game for Manchester City."

Ancelotti was critical of his side's application and attitude after last weekend's defeat to Burnley.

Everton have won just four of their last 11 home matches in all competitions, with three of those victories coming in the FA Cup, two of which were against Championship opposition in Rotherham and Sheffield Wednesday.

"This competition is a big motivation," he said. "The desire is really high and I hope this can help us to have more motivation and spirit. Yes, it is important.

"I hope this season there will be more important games and we can play in the semi-final or the final, that would be a fantastic achievement which would give us the opportunity to play in Europe.

"But for now it is really important."

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