November 25, 2017 / 1:14 PM / a year ago

Everton's Unsworth wants defenders to get back to basics

Soccer Football - Europa League - Everton vs Atalanta - Goodison Park, Liverpool, Britain - November 23, 2017 Everton caretaker manager David Unsworth before the match Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine

(Reuters) - Caretaker boss David Unsworth said ahead of Sunday’s trip to Southampton that he wants Everton to get back to the basics of defending and stop conceding sloppy goals if they are to breathe life into their Premier League campaign.

The 16th-placed Merseysiders have let in 24 goals from 12 league games this season, level with Stoke City and Crystal Palace and behind West Ham United (26). They have not kept a clean sheet since a 1-0 win over Stoke in August.

Unsworth took over after Ronald Koeman was sacked in October but has not plugged the leaks in his six games in charge, but the former defender said his players were working hard in training after a 5-1 defeat by Atalanta in the Europa League on Thursday.

“Our back four and everybody has just got to return to basics in terms of defending,” he said.

“It’s OK to put the ball into row Z, be organised and keep a clean sheet. It’s something we’ve been working on – keeping a clean sheet mentality.

“As a team we’ve conceded sloppy goals, we’ve switched off. In periods we’ve been good and in moments we’ve been sloppy but we all have to contribute to a clean sheet.”

Everton have 12 points from as many games after three draws, three losses and six defeats while Southampton are 14th, a point above the Toffees.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Stephen Powell

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