Everton are hoping to build on Wednesday’s second-half performance against Chelsea as they visit Leicester City on Sunday, with David Unsworth believing his side aren’t too far away from getting results.
Despite the defeat, the Blues played some of their best football of the season in Wednesday’s second-half performance in the Carabao Cup defeat but have given themselves a platform to build on.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s trip to the King Power Stadium, Unsworth said: “I saw that (an upturn) in the whole performance the other night.
“Particularly in the second half with the amount of chances we created, our dominance, the desire to really play on the front foot and put in a performance. I said to the players after the game, if we perform like that we will be absolutely fine and start climbing the table very soon."
The Blues played with a freedom in the second 45 minutes not seen since last season and Unsworth put that down to the squad rediscovering a confidence and belief in themselves.
He added: “I like a smile around the place, an atmosphere where players feel free to express themselves but at the same time, within a team structure where the minimum requirement is 100% effort.
“That’s what we like to do and something we’ve always done, whichever team I’ve been responsible for. That will be no different with the first team.”
There are plenty of names being bandied around to take over the Goodison Park post but Unsworth is looking to build his own case by getting results.
Burnley boss Sean Dyche and former Borussia Dortmund chief Thomas Tuchel continue to lead the way as favourites but if the 44-year-old former Everton defender can show he is the right choice, his tag as interim manager may be a thing of the past.
The Chorley born interim boss is in regular contact with chairman Bill Kenwright and revealed he had his first conversation with majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri on Thursday evening.
Unsworth told the media at Finch Farm: ”I spoke to Farhad last night and a few times with the chairman.
"I am clear in what my role is day to day. I am really focused. The team is focused. And the staff are focused.
"The dialogue with the chairman is really good. There’s no secrets or hidden agendas. We are honest.”
When asked if his chances of landing the job full-time have changed since Wednesday night's game with Chelsea, he said: "No different at all."
Ross Barkley closing in on a return
Ross Barkley is yet to make an appearance for Everton this season after he had been expected to leave Goodison Park during the summer.
The Blues interim boss openly spoke about Barkley’s Everton status during his first press conference last week and said he hoped to speak to him about his future and revealed this week that the midfielder is closing in on his first-team return following a hamstring injury that required surgery.
Unsworth said: “We hope Ross is three or four weeks away from being in the squad. The long-term injuries are as they were, but Ross is closer to coming back.”
Apart from Barkley, the Blues are still without Yannick Bolasie, Seamus Coleman and Ramiro Funes Mori, with the Argentine defender not expected to return this season after picking up a knee injury during the summer.
Bolasie and Coleman had been ahead of schedule according to former boss Ronald Koeman but Unsworth added: “They are all still working really hard in the gym but with Yannick Bolasie and Seamus Coleman, you are talking months not weeks.”
The pair had been expected to return to full first-team training by the end of October or November, at the latest, but will seemingly have to wait a while longer yet.