By Noel Whelan

7th Dec, 2021 | 7:00am

Pundit names Keane among four 'shocking' Everton stars letting Benitez down

Noel Whelan has blasted Michael Keane for letting Rafael Benitez down with some “shocking” defending at Everton this season.

The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted the 28-year-old has been “miles off it” at times.

Keane has been an ever-present for Benitez this season and was included in the team that secured a shock 2-1 win at Arsenal last night.

Whelan insisted the former Burnley man was one Everton star who had let his manager down the most.

He was particularly incensed by the centre-back’s contribution in last week’s 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Liverpool.

Whelan told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “You’re in a Merseyside derby. That’s quite an embarrassing defeat and I didn’t see too much fight there.

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“That was the saddening part of it. It just felt too easy for Liverpool to go to Goodison and score four goals. Defensively, they’ve been shocking at times.

“Keane seems miles off it. Most of the defenders are miles away from what we know and expect after what they gave last season, that’s for sure.

“It can only come down to belief. We know they’ve got the quality. They’re just not using it.

“Performances have got to be taken on the chin by the players. They’ve got to own some of this poor form, if not more so than the manager. He can only choose what he’s got to work with.

“I know he’s had a lot of injuries but it seems to me that there’s a real gulf in class at the minute. Look at where Everton are, and look at the top five or six.”

Keane was partnered by fit-again Yerry Mina against Arsenal, with Ben Godfrey shifting across to left-back.

Seamus Coleman kept his place at right-back but Lucas Digne was dropped from the squad after his Mohamed Salah mauling.

In other news, pundit defends “brilliant” Everton figure amid major sack reveal.