Everton manager claims defender is 'ever-improving' as brilliant statistic backs his point

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The Everton defender has been in strong form in recent weeks and has been backed by Sean Dyche.

Everton boss Sean Dyche has backed Vitalii Mykolenko to improve even further following his recent run of form.

The 24-year-old has shaken off a run of injuries at the start of the season to re-establish himself in the first-team, and he's certainly bounced back to form across the last month.

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In terms of numbers, Mykolenko currently ranks second for the most tackles and interceptions in the Premier League per90 with 5.88 - trailing only Fulham's Joao Palhinha who is ahead on 8.08. He's also played the second-fewest minutes out of anyone in the top 20 rankings.

Dyche was very complimentary of the Ukrainian international during his press conference ahead of the trip to Crystal Palace, claiming he has been impressed with his form, but he believes there's even more from him to come.

"Myko finished last season injured which wasn't ideal and got injured early this season and it was an awkward spell of niggling injuries. He's done very well, as soon as I got here I liked what I saw, I think there's a lot of development in him.

"He defends very well, very high-level, modern-controlled aggression, he wants to defend but not silly stuff just the way he competes. I think that's growing all the time and he's really improving and I've really enjoyed watching his performances."

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Ashley Young began the season at left-back but produced some mixed performances following his move from Aston Villa and there's no doubt that Mykonlenko brings a balance to the Everton backline.

For example, he dealt with Mohamed Salah one-on-one brilliantly in the Merseyside derby before he scored from the spot and from a late counter-attack to eventually settle the game, but that wasn't on the left-back.

Going forward is still an area of improvement for him. Although, a strike against Brighton last weekend was the perfect answer to those critics.

He is yet to provide an assist in 61 games for the club so far, but given that he does the most important part of the job well - stopping attackers - then there's plenty of time to develop that side of his game. But, for now, fans can certainly be happy with his progress.

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