By Alan Hutton

16th Oct, 2019 | 7:11pm

Exclusive: Pundit claims Everton mainstay set to struggle after falling down pecking order

Alan Hutton has suggested that Everton defender Michael Keane is going to struggle to dislodge Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings and Manchester United’s Harry Maguire from the England starting XI.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the former Villa and Scotland full-back says that the performance of Keane’s rivals on Monday night against Bulgaria means the Toffees’ mainstay is facing an uphill battle to take his place back.

Prior to the Three Lions’ 6-0 win, Keane had started five of the last seven international fixtures, including playing in every minute of the previous three matches.

However, with Maguire and debutant Mings looking formidable at the heart of the defence, Hutton says the Everton star faces a tough task to try and force his way back into the reckoning.

Asked if Keane could face a spell on the bench, Hutton told Football Insider: “Oh yeah, definitely. Tyrone came in and he looked so calm.  When you’ve got defenders behind you who are calm, composed and able to play, it makes the rest of the team feel that way.

“If you’ve got someone who’s maybe not playing at his best or is a little bit jumpy, it kind of makes the rest around you a little bit jumpy. I think Tyrone had a great partnership with Maguire, I think it will only grow and get stronger.

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“They’re two strong men who can play football so I think they’re in pole position for that partnership.” 

As well as Keane, Mings and Maguire, Gareth Southgate also had Joe Gomez and Fikayo Tomori to call upon at the heart of the defence during this international break, Manchester City’s John Stones missing through injury.

Keane will return to Everton ahead of their clash against West Ham this weekend, the Toffees sitting 18th in the Premier League after just two wins in eight games.

In other Everton news, Danny Mills has suggested that a Premier League player was disappointed not to seal a move to Goodison Park over the summer.