‘Gives us balance’ - £18m boost for Everton as Sean Dyche makes defensive claim

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The Everton defender has recently returned to the side and has earned praise from the manager.

Sean Dyche says Vitalii Mykolenko’s return to fitness has given his side a better ‘balance’ and competition for places following their loss to Arsenal.

The Toffees lost out to Arsenal at the weekend as a sole Leandro Trossard goal was enough to earn to all three points at Goodison Park.

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Mykolenko, 24, returned to action during their win over Doncaster Rovers in the EFL Cup last month and he started his first game since last season at the weekend, making five tackles, three clearances and made one really good block on his Premier League return.

Despite the loss, Dyche revealed that there were defensive elements to be pleased with but he was frustrated with their lack of belief on the ball against Mikel Arteta’s side.

“[Mykolenko] gives us balance, of course,” Dyche told evertontv. “He had two solid performances [for Ukraine] while he was away. I’ve been waiting for him to get fit.

“I thought he played well and there were some good signs within that defensive performance.

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“The element of fluidity in the side and that’s been pretty good - the way we’ve used the ball, the effectiveness of the way we’ve used the ball and everyone wanting the ball - but that went missing [against Arsenal].

“On the transition, not enough people wanted to go and play, wanted to be active with the ball and have that different kind of bravery with the ball.”

Continuing with their defence, the centre-back partnership of James Tarkowski and Jarrad Branthwaite is also going strong - the pair have now started the last three games together and are looking more and more settled.

Branthwaite, 21, returned from a strong loan spell last season and has topped the charts in terms of certain statistics for defenders in the league after being brought into the team and Dyche is happy with their progress.

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“I thought Jarrad played well again today and that’s pleasing as he’s a young centre half earning his spurs,” said Dyche.

“I thought [the partnership between Branthwaite and Tarkowski] was good today against some very good players. I thought we were very effective in that area of the pitch, it was more the transition area [that wasn’t there] - dealing with the ball from our point of view.

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