Michael Keane must look to use his remaining time with the England national side to take a lesson in leadership from Conor Coady, after the Wolverhampton Wanderers captain upstaged the Everton defender against Wales on Thursday.
Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate opted to tackle the international friendly against rivals Wales at Wembley Stadium with Keane and Coady partnered by Liverpool’s Joe Gomez in a three-man backline, which kept Ryan Giggs’ visitors scoreless in a 3-0 win.
Coady provided the second of England’s three goals with a perfectly timed volley at the back post to meet Kieran Trippier’s free-kick unchallenged, in what was only the 27-year-old’s second international match following his debut against Denmark in August.
Keane, likewise, has one goal to his name for England but from 11 senior appearances dating back to his debut in 2017, but cannot let his greater experience cloud his judgment and ought to use his time wisely to benefit from Coady’s greater qualities.
Keane found himself upstaged on Thursday as Coady led from the back against Wales, barking instructions to his teammates throughout the affair to keep England in check – something the Everton man has often been at fault for at Goodison Park by not organising a difunctional line.
Coady, on the other hand, has often been lauded for his worthiness as Wolves’ captain since the Molineux outfit were promoted to the Premier League, with the Liverpool-born ace’s voice a constant echo being heard around the Black Country whenever Nuno Espirito Santo’s side take to the field.
Teammates and staff repeatedly praise Coady for his organisation and leadership as one of the only voices constantly communicating messages on the pitch, keeping his colleagues in check to ensure no one is left red-faced and opposition attacks are quickly snuffed out.
Coady knows when to push the team forward and when to drop back, he is a true field general in ways Keane can only imagine. But working alongside the Wolves captain can guide the £65,000-per-week 27-year-old to one day take on greater responsibilities under Carlo Ancelotti in a side that has previously been compared to a puppy rolling over and asking for its belly to be tickled.
If Everton are to capitalise on their unbeaten start to the 2020/21 Premier League season and secure their return to a UEFA competition for the first time since the 2017/18 Europa League Group Stage, keeping a solid defence in check over the full campaign will be crucial.