Frank Lampard says he is “excited” by the challenge of Everton’s relegation battle as he prepares his team for Wednesday’s crucial Premier League fixture at fellow strugglers Burnley.
The Merseyside club are three points clear of the bottom three and four above 19th-placed Burnley, having lost five of their past six matches in the league.
Lampard took over at Goodison Park at the end of January but has so far been unable to arrest Everton’s slide, winning just two of his eight league games in charge.
“Tension can be a good thing, it can also go the other way,” he said on Tuesday. “I don’t feel tense, I feel excited by the level of this game and the competitive nature.
“I loved as a player being involved in competitive games and now we have 10 of those and this is the first one. I’m calm and I’m excited.”
The former Chelsea player and manager is determined to stay upbeat despite his club’s predicament.
“Remaining positive is the biggest thing for me to do,” he said. “A lot of the feeling of expectation and dissection of games comes in the modern day surrounding a club like Everton, or any huge club — we are a huge club with a huge fanbase and huge tradition, so it’s very much expected.”
As the pressure mounts, Lampard said mental preparation was a key factor.
“We’re playing in a position and a reality where we’re fighting at the bottom end of the table to stay in the league,” he said.
“That’s been the case for a while, and every game that goes it becomes more intense, so the mental preparation and the physical preparation is key. That’s what we can control.”
Everton have had three red cards in their past three league games and Lampard acknowledged a need to address the issue.
Allan and Michael Keane will both miss Wednesday’s match through suspension, with Donny van de Beek also sidelined by a thigh problem, joining Yerry Mina and Andros Townsend in the treatment room.
Seamus Coleman is back following an illness, while Fabian Delph is also in the squad after injury.