James Tarkowski ready to step up as Everton hit by defensive injuries

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Summer signing James Tarkowski is happy to shoulder even more responsibility in light of Everton’s defensive injury problems.

Ben Godfrey has been ruled out for two to three months with a fractured tibia sustained just 10 minutes into the 1-0 defeat to Chelsea in their opening game, a situation worsened when injury-prone Yerry Mina limped off late in the second half.

Tarkowski, a free signing from Burnley, was brought in to provide more stability to a defence which conceded a club-record 66 Premier League goals in last season’s narrow escape from relegation.

But with two of manager Frank Lampard’s starting back three already out injured, the 29-year-old’s influence takes on even more significance.

“I’m more disappointed for the lads to get injured to be honest. It didn’t look nice for Ben, hopefully it’s not too bad – and hopefully the same for Yerry,” said the defender.

“There is no more pressure for me – I have got to go out there and perform. For whoever comes in and plays there, it is the same for them.

“I am one of the older heads around here. It is quite a young side and I am fairly experienced, I have played quite a few games at this level now, so I feel it’s part of my job to go in there and to try and lead and guide and help people.

“Especially someone in my position because I can see all the pitch, so it is my job and it is something I really enjoy.”

With a World Cup on the horizon, Tarkowski has aspirations of making his way back into Gareth Southgate’s squad and, on the evidence of his first outing, he looked in good form.

But the centre-back knows he has to maintain his consistency at club level first.

“Yeah, of course it would help. I have just got to perform to the best of my ability,” he said.

“I think if I’m playing well and the team is, there will be opportunities there for me.

“My main focus is that I have just signed for a new club and I want to perform and show what I am all about.

“That is what I have got to do and whatever the future brings we will see.”

Lampard was certainly happy with his new acquisition.

“He was class, wasn’t he? His defensive performance, on-the-ball performance, calm, leader, he has a presence on the pitch,” said the Toffees boss.

“I have seen it in pre-season, so I’m delighted with how he played. He nearly scored as well, one of the chances we had.

“He’s a threat in that box and very good for us in our box.”

Everton are set to announce the £33million signing of Lille midfielder Amadou Onana and the player was at Goodison Park to watch his new team-mates.

He will add some much-needed strength to an area of the squad which has required bolstering for some time.

“I see him as more of an eight for him, but the way we played with two sixes, which is kind of between a six and an eight playing with someone else, he can absolutely do that,” said Lampard.

“Whether we want to play with two sixes or six and an eight, he can do all of those positions.”