Everton manager Frank Lampard has praised defender Mason Holgate for embodying the attitude required from his players as they seek to avoid relegation from the Premier League.
Holgate’s first-half header proved the winner as Everton beat Leicester 2-1 to move out of the bottom three on Sunday.
Lampard confirmed the 25-year-old had been unwell but insisted on playing.
“He was sick yesterday, he couldn’t train or travel with us and he arrived at the hotel separately,” Lampard said.
“But he woke up this morning and said ‘I’m playing this game.’
“That is the attitude which will get us through.”
- Everton beat Leicester City to move out of Premier League relegation places
The win at King Power Stadium ended a seven-match losing run away from home for Lampard’s side and also secured back-to-back wins for the first time since September.
But, most importantly, the three points took them up to 16th in the table – one point above Burnley and Leeds United, having played one game fewer than their relegation rivals.
“We’re still in a relegation fight. If we want to get out of it, it has to be together as a club and we’ve seen that in recent weeks,” Lampard added.
“It’s a huge result for confidence. A week ago we were five points from safety and now we’re a point safe but there is more to do.”
Lampard previously questioned whether his players had the right mentality to play for the club following a 4-0 FA Cup quarter-final loss to Crystal Palace in March, however the Toffees have now won three of their last five league games to ensure their fate remains in their own hands.
In-form Pickford ‘getting recognition he deserves’
While goals from Vitaliy Mykolenko and Holgate ultimately earned the three points, it required further heroics from England number one Pickford in goal to see out the victory.
Pickford produced arguably the save of the season when he denied Cesar Azpilicueta in the 1-0 win against Chelsea last weekend that kept Everton in touch.
And, as the pressure mounted on the Everton goal in the second half against Leicester, the 28-year-old once again rose to the occasion to help his team over the line.
He prevented Nampalys Mendy’s curling shot from finding the top corner with a spectacular leap to his left, and twice saved from Harvey Barnes, among seven vital stops.
|Premier League since 9 April||Shots on target faced||Saves||Save percentage|
|Jordan Pickford (Everton)||24||20||83.3%|
|Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)||18||15||83.3%|
|Nick Pope (Burnley)||28||22||75%|
|Illan Meslier (Leeds)||23||17||73.9%|
|Lukasz Fabianski (West Ham)||22||16||72.7%|
“We need our big players at the moment,” Lampard told BBC Sport.
“Moments like Jordan’s saves are huge. You need top-level players to deliver and he did. He is in great form.”
Speaking to Sky Sports, Lampard added: “[Pickford] is getting the recognition he rightly deserves.
“They all are [emotional games] at the moment, there’s so much on the games but we’re fighting together. It’s important to enjoy these moments but there’s a lot of work to do.”
Next up for Everton is a trip to already relegated Watford on Wednesday, followed by consecutive home games against Brentford and Crystal Palace, before a final-day trip to top-four hopefuls Arsenal.
Pickford said: “It’s about commitment, attitude, team spirit. That’s what gets you over the line.
“It feels like forever since we won away from home. To win 2-1 is a great result but now we can’t get carried away and we must go again on Wednesday.”
Team-mate and goalscorer Holgate said: “Jordan’s made a few big saves and he’s done that in the past few games. We need our big players to step up for us.
“We’ve always had the confidence to stay up. We can’t get carried away, we’ve got to keep going until the end of the season.”
- Our coverage of Everton is bigger and better than ever before – here’s everything you need to know to make sure you never miss a moment
- Everything Everton – go straight to all the best content